Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg uses a range of objects and materials to create his sculptures, typically according to preestablished systems that are at once unpredictable and precise. Trade-Wind, 1995, for example, comprised a harmonious, slanted arrangement of plaster vases placed one on top of the other in decreasing order, their surfaces covered with densely hatched pencil lines. He used the same principle of construction to generate an untitled piece in 1994, in which vases also appeared, although those were sandblasted, painted, and perforated with numerous holes.

Cragg’s sculptural pieces—or perhaps one should call them installations, given the size of many recent examples—often assume the aspect of primitive organisms, as they are so often conceived as concatenations of similar units. In some of the works in this show, this organic quality was heightened by explicit references to parts of the natural world. Forminifera, 1995, for example, which consisted of five large, elongated ovals made of white plaster, each riddled with small circular holes, suggested groupings of marine rocks formed from accumulated shells. Messages, 1993, contained two long, solid elements in black wood, each deeply incised with markings in the shape of a helix that pointedly referenced the spiral configuration of DNA. The numerous elements that comprised Flock, which Cragg created especially for this exhibition, were large, eccentric, cocoonlike forms made out of white fiberglass.

Cragg never loses sight of phenomenal reality, having long found his inspiration in the everyday. Objects often take on a certain metaphorical resonance in his work, as the two pieces entitled Administered Landscape, 1995, each of which depicts a large stamping device (one made of glass and the other of paraffin) make plain. Our perception of reality, in particular, remains Cragg’s primary theme; this is manifested not only in the things to which his sculptures refer, but also in the new techniques he continues to explore.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.