Tony Cragg’s ongoing fascination with raw material manifests itself in this highly dynamic wood sculpture from 2006. With a powerful sense of vertical inertia, two oblong figures sprout from a shared base, creating metaphysical trunks that provoke imagery from nature, like fossils. While one vessel protrudes inward, the other shies away, the contours and precarious, rippling folds always interacting as a whole. The upward torsion of the pair is energized by the spiraling acquiescence of form throughout.
Varying points of openness and inwardness recall the fluidity of a more plastic material, reflecting Cragg’s interest in contradictions. “With this integration of contraries, achieved through an unexpected harmony, Cragg effects a linguistic leap in sculpture with respect to the conceptual and minimalist manner of Donald Judd, Richard Long, Robert Smithson and Barry Flanagan” (Germano Celant, Tony Cragg, Milan, Italy, 1996, p. 14). Untitled, one of the artist’s Rational Beings, exemplifies the working method of using circular flat discs along two axis points that are layered upon each other to produce an almost gravitational impossibility. Cragg examines this tension and reflects, “My job is to push the envelope of sculptural objects in the world around me” (Tony Cragg in Jon Wood’s Terms and Conditions: Interview with Tony Cragg in Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig’s Out of Material, Koln, Germany, 2006, p. 43). While using a sturdy, somewhat unmalleable material, Cragg produces a fluid organism that is propelled by dynamism and movement.
Always inspired by nature and found objects, Tony Cragg studied sculpture in London and immediately starting exhibiting his works that employed materials that expanded the traditional realm of art objects. His exposure to minimalism and conceptualism in the seventies and eighties, as well as his time spent in a laboratory during his youth, informed his early assemblages and installations of discarded objects and toys. His wide body of work significantly contributes to the ever-evolving visual language in sculpture. Considered one of the foremost artists of New British Sculpture, Cragg continues to redefine the bounds of sculpture.