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Tony Cragg in 4D: From Flux to Stability at the International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice
Tony Cragg, Good Face, 2007, bronze, 210 x 210 x 120 cm.. Courtesy of the artist.

VENICE.- A project conceived especially for Ca' Pesaro by one of the protagonists of sculpture today, Tony Cragg (Liverpool, 1949). With an itinerary through the three floors of Ca’ Pesaro – from the entrance hall and small room on the ground floor, to the monumental staircase, second floor and façade overlooking the Grand Canal – the exhibition offers forty works of art, in glass, bronze, steel, plastic, wood and stone, but also drawings, preparatory sketches and watercolours, spanning thirty years activity, from the 1980s to today, most of which have never been on show in Italy before.

These are all works that document the versatility of the languages and products of his work, while also establishing a close relation with the permanent works on display in the museum and its rooms. The exhibition, curated by Silvio Fuso and Jon Wood, is a co-production by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and KunstMeran/Merano Arte (where it will be on display from 5 February to 28 May 2011, curated by Valerio Dehò), in collaboration with Galleria Michela Rizzo and Caterina Tognon Arte Contemporanea, Venice.

After his initial phase (the Seventies), during which he combined coloured fragments of city debris in innovative compositions between collage and sculpture, Tony Cragg gradually moved towards more majestic works in which minimalism became monumental, using huge blocks of wood, iron, bronze and glass fibre. His main interest became “the creation of objects and images that don’t exist in the natural or functional world but that are able to reflect and transmit information and sensations about the world and [its] very existence” (Tony Cragg, 1985). Fundamental is not only the choice of the element to be used in his creations, but also its actual working into forms that are able to develop and be transformed. In what is almost a scientific attitude, Cragg’s “manic” interest for the potential movement of bodies drives him to search for, study and reveal all the possible mutations of a primary structure. All of this takes place within a poetics of creation. Not “closed” forms but ‘openings’ in which the main idea is the relationship with space and between objects, material, and images. A self-declared layman and “materialist”, Tony Cragg carries out an aesthetic-philosophical operation in which art has the task of revealing a profound physical and plastic spirituality, “as an alternative to looking at nature, and an alternative to looking at a dull-headed industrial utilitarian reality” (Tony Cragg, 2005).

Tony Cragg. Born in Liverpool in 1949, he is regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of contemporary art. Educated in the fields of Minimalism and the Conceptual, after his early studies from ’69 to ’77 he attended Gloucestershire College of Art di Cheltenham, Wimbledon School of Art (BA) and the Royal College of Art (MA); in 1976 he taught at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Metz. In ‘77 he moved to Wuppertal (Germany), where he has been living and working ever since. From ‘78 to 2001he taught at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf – where he was made full professor in ’88 before going on to become director in 2009. At the same time he began to exhibit his works, taking his work to some of the most important museums and private and public collections in the world, including his participation in no less than six of the Venice Biennale (‘80, ’86 and ’88, when he received a “special mention” and won the “Turner Prize”, ’93, ’97 and 2009); twice in the Kassel “documenta” (’82 and ‘87), twice in the Sydney Biennale (‘84 and 90); he also exhibited his work at the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst in Munich Baveria and Palais des Beaux-Arts, in Brussels (’85), Brooklyn Museum and at the ’University Art Museum di Berkeley (’86); at the Houston Contemporary Art Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (’91);’IVAM Valencia (’92); Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes (’94); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (95); MNAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (’96); MACBA, Barcelona (’97), Royal Academy, London (‘99), Tate Gallery, Liverpool (2000), Bibliothèque Nationale Francaise in Paris, CAC Málaga and at the MACRO in Rome (2003). In 2003 in Berlin he was awarded the prestigious Piepenbrock Prize for sculpture and in the same year was nominated Commander of the Order of the British Empire for art; in 2007 he received the Praemium Imperiale, once again for sculpture, awarded annually by the Japan Art Association to exponents of the art world. In Wuppertal he created a public park with his sculpture, where 20 of his large works are installed in 16 hectares of woods. During 2010 he exhibited at the Lisson Gallery in London, the Konstmuseum in Boras, the Sweden Uppsala Bror Hjorths Hus, (Sweden) and in a group exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa.

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