TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTOR
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)

Red Figure

TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
Red Figure
incised with the artist's signature 'Cragg' and stamped with foundry mark 'Schmake Dusseldorf' (lower edge)
bronze with dark brown patina
88 x 83 ½ x 23 5/8in. (223.5 x 212 x 60cm.)
Executed in 2009
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2012.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Sinuous pours of metal cascade in Tony Cragg’s Red Figure (2009). Its meandering surface appears abstract but is in fact formed of multiple faces which have been stretched, contorted, and stacked atop one another. The effect is striking: a twisting tower of bronze caught in a powerfully dynamic vortex. Transcending material conventions has long been a central preoccupation for Cragg, whose artistic practice defies easy categorisation. As the artist has explained, ‘Making sculpture involves not only changing the form and the meaning of the material but also, oneself … the popular and unhelpfully simplifying dichotomies of form and context, ugly and beautiful, of abstract and figurative, expressive and conceptual, dissolve into a free solution, out of which a new form with a new meaning can crystallise’ (T. Cragg, In and Out of Material, Cologne 2006).

While Cragg’s earliest sculptures were composed of found objects, in the 1990s he jettisoned this approach in favour of a materials-oriented exploration. Over the subsequent two decades he has created families of work, each a meditation on a different theme. Red Figure is part of his series Rational Beings, which features distorted columnar forms to explore perception. In warping the human figure, Cragg endeavours to elicit an emotive, intuitive response. While his fluid material transformations seem to defy the laws of gravity, his art retains a tangible and corporeal presence which reinforces its ties to the physical world. For Cragg, ‘everything is material,’ and he finds himself repeatedly drawn to the ‘emotional qualities of things’ (T. Cragg interviewed by K. Kellaway, The Guardian, 5 March 2017). Such a charge suffuses Red Figure, whose organic, shifting forms seem caught in a constant act of metamorphosis.

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