As a counterpoint to the presentation at the Louvre
of the first retrospective in France devoted to the Bavarian-born Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (17361783), the museum plays host to a group of sculptures by the leading British contemporary artist Tony Cragg, to be shown in the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget. In addition, the Louvre is pleased to feature a monumental sculpture by the artist, produced especially for the exhibition and displayed under the pyramid.
In 2008, an exhibition at the Belvedere in Vienna also juxtaposed works by these two sculptors. But here the visual dialogue across the centuries between Tony Cragg and Messerschmidts character heads refers more specifically to a single steel sculpture by this major contemporary sculptor, Mixed feelings (2010) which, like the masterpieces of his 18thcentury predecessor, through its distortions, depicts a particularly expressive human face, from a very specific viewpoint.
The seven other sculptures selected by Cragg to inhabit the space formed by the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget are of varying dimensions, shapes and types, thus reflecting this sculptors broad use of materials (bronze, steel, wood), colors (white, red, black) and methods (circumvolutions around a central axis, displacement of oblique and overhanging elements along a lateral plane, accumulation of numerous fine layers, puncturing of surfaces). Sculptures conceived on the same themes, but of different sizes, allow visitors to consider the question of scale, and a sculpture in two parts, Runner, resonates indirectly with the Lutteurs by Philippe Magnier (1647-1715).
As part of the invitation extended to Tony Cragg, a new sculpture by the artist, produced especially for this exhibition, is to be installed under I. M. Peis pyramid, at the entrance column. Indeed, this exhibition space was intended in the architects conception for the presentation of a contemporary work of art.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, Tony Cragg has lived and worked in Wuppertal, Germany since 1977. Cragg has explored a wide variety of types of practice in sculpture and has made vast contributions to contemporary debates on sculpture. While his early works in the 1970s were mostly created using recovered objects, in his later work Cragg has used more traditional materials, such as wood, bronze and marble, continually renewing his repertoire of forms, reaching towards an abstract appreciation of the human body. Tony Cragg was awarded the Turner Prize in 1988 and represented GreatBritain in Venice the same year. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1994. In September 2008, Cragg opened a sculpture garden in Wuppertal.