TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)

Untitled

Details
TONY CRAGG (B. 1949)
Untitled
incised with the artist's signature 'Cragg'; stamped with the foundry mark 'Kayser Dusseldorf' and date '2008' (lower edge)
stainless steel
133 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 35 3/8in. (340 x 100 x 90cm.)
Executed in 2008, this work is one of three unique versions
Provenance
Lisson Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010.
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.

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Lot Essay

Towering over three metres in height, Untitled (2008) is a monumental example of Tony Cragg’s ongoing fascination with the material world. Cragg presents us with a towering vortex of stainless steel, its gravity-defying form governed by a turbulent centrifugal force. The sculpture is part of a broad series he calls Rational Beings, which explore the tension between the rational, mathematical structures that build biological life and our emotive responses to organic form. Amongst its twisting mass, the work takes on a palpable anthropomorphic presence, its billowing surface morphing into an amalgamation of human features and faces. Indeed, by manipulating his material in this way, Cragg engages in a contemporary reimagination of the classical bust. As if caught between physical states, the work revels in its metamorphic character, skilfully sculpting the space around it in an act of biomorphic transformation. The work’s mirror-polished metal also incorporates the reflection of the viewer, making their own likeness a shifting part of the work’s surface.

Evolving from his Early Forms of the 1970s, a group of sculptures composed of found everyday objects, Cragg embarked on his Rational Beings in the 1990s as a means of exploring the relationship between material, form and emotion. Spanning a range of media, the series is comprised of columnar sculptures that investigate the depths of our perception, aiming to evoke an intuitive response in the viewer. At once abstract and figurative, the present work plays on our inbuilt tendency to recognise the human figure in everything we see. ‘The main concern in these works is the relationship between that which we call geometric and that which we call organic’, Cragg has stated, ‘Both being aesthetic descriptions of the physical world. The human figure is obviously an organic form but there are many geometries in it—our organs, bone structure, cells and molecules.’

Working as a lab technician at the National Rubber Producers Research Association in the late 1960s, a period which kickstarted his career-long fascination with synthetic materials, Cragg’s background in science has long permeated his practice. Indeed, for Cragg, it was critical to find a visual language that responded to modern developments. He has claimed that ‘we have gone beyond the stage where we can just represent things in sculpture. We have to find new means of expression, a new visual language’ (T. Cragg, quoted in R. Conway Morris, ‘Inventing a “new visual language”’, International Herald Tribune, 14 October 2010, p. 12). The present work is a splendid example of this new sculptural idiom, presenting us with a fluid, shimmering mass whose forms seem caught in a constant act of metamorphosis.

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