“From sand, artworks in glass”,Tony Cragg, Tower, 2019, Vortex, 2016, Untitled, 2018
“My works are absolutely geometric objects, but at the same time they have a shape which is complicated enough to allow you to involve them and have an emotional response” – Tony Cragg
In the eighties Tony Cragg began to experiment with different materials through the language of sculpture. Thanks to his scientific knowledge he managed to create a unique relationship between matter and form, creating sculptures, molding a single material at a time, such as ceramic, bronze, iron and at the end of the eighties also blown glass. The artist is interested at the very nature of glass, the fluidity of this element worked through fire and air becoming rigid, the geometric shapes created by Tony Cragg in Vortex, Untilted and Tower, are also possible thanks to the molecular composition of the glass that makes transparency and light central elements of his artworks.
BUILDINGBOX is dedicating the 2019-2020 season to contemporary glass art with the project Dalla sabbia, opere in vetro (From sand, artworks in glass), an exhibition spread over 12 monthly appointments, curated by BUILDING in collaboration with Jean Blanchaert. The fifth is an installation of three artworks by Tony Cragg.
The title, Dalla sabbia, opere in vetro (From sand, artworks in glass), evokes the fascinating alchemy involved in creating this material from sand, using air and fire, presenting the work of contemporary artists who have chosen to explore the potential offered by this medium. It is the experimental approach that makes these works so exemplary and precious: they are conceived by artists who use various different techniques, some of which are not usually associated with the specific characteristics of glass. This project resonates with BUILDING’s mission of exploring the lesser known aspects and experimental side of the art world, along with more celebrated figures and practices.
Here the focus is on the creative relationship forged between the artist’s vision and the craft of master glassmakers. Easily shaped by skilled hands, glass assumes “fragile” forms that both connect with the artistic traditions of the past and at the same time open up to a formal perspective grounded in contemporary aesthetics. The theme of the project lies in the works themselves, rooted in an age-old history and ancient craft, bearers of a precise chemical combination of different elements developed 4000 years ago by the Phoenicians, and which still holds infinite potential.
For 12 months a sequence of works by various artists will be hosted in the independent showcase, visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, marking the passing of time and eliciting broader reflections on how time tends to dominate space.
Tony Cragg was born in 1949 in Liverpool and lives and works in Wuppertal, Germany. He plays a leading role in the contemporary art world in the debate on the function and nature of sculpture: in his works he investigates the relationship between art and materials as well as art and science. Before graduating from the Royal College of Art in London in 1977, he worked as a lab technician at a materials research institute, where he studied in detail the characteristics of materials. In 1979, he moved to Wuppertal and he began to teach at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. At a time, when the artistic movements of Minimalism, Conceptual Art and Arte Povera were the cornerstones of avant-garde art, Cragg became one of the protagonists of the sculpture renewal. Early works of the 1970s were mostly made with found objects through which he created wall or floor installations, questioning the difference between painting and sculpture and testing techniques like stacking, splitting, and crushing. In later pieces his interest shifted to surface quality, manipulation and unlikely juxtapositions of materials, processing solid materials into fluid and dynamic shapes. In recent years, he has been exploring the contrasting ideas of compression and expansion in totemic structures where the presence of human profiles is often peripheral to the sculpture as a whole. Since the 80’s he has exhibited in numerous institutions of international importance, to mention the most recent: Aliyev Art Centre (2014), Baku; Milan Cathedral (2015); ADAA (2015), New York; Fondazione Berengo (2015), Venice; Galerie Thaddeus Ropac (2016), Paris; Hermitage Museum (2016), St. Petersburg; Lisson Gallery (2016), London, in the Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy (2019). He was awarded the Turner Prize (1988); represented Great Britain in the 43rd Venice Biennale (1988); elected Royal Academician, Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf (1994); won 1st Prize for Best Sculpture, Beijing Biennale (2005); received an Honorary Doctorate, Royal College of Arts (2009), London; Artist’s Medal of Honor of the Hermitage (2012), St. Petersburg; and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to Visual Arts and UK-German Relations (2016) .