Tony Cragg is known for his broad use of materials including plastic, wood, stone, metal and industrial objects such as glass bottles. His expressions of form range from abstraction to figuration. Cragg trained as a biologist, and much of his work is based on organic, biomorphic shapes similar to cellular life seen under a microscope.
During the 1970s Cragg made sculptures from household and found objects like planks and stones. Cragg says, “I think that objects have the capability to carry valuable information for us, but most objects are made in ways which are irresponsible and manipulative. Irresponsible because people—the makers of this or that—don’t really consider in any metaphysical way the meanings of the objects that they are making; and manipulative because things are made for commercial and power-based reasons.” During the 1980s Cragg worked with pieces of colorful plastic, which he collected and reconfigured as installations, sometimes abstract, but frequently shaped into flat configurations of the human form and displayed on either walls or floors.
Cragg has created many sculptures made of bronze, a more traditional fine arts material. Frequently, as in Ferryman (1997) and Turbo (2001), his large-scale sculptures are organic, abstract and infused with a sense of dynamic movement. Both of these sculptures allude to the philosophical underpinnings of Craig’s work, suggesting, respectively, his interest in cellular biology and the physics of motion.
Tony Cragg was born in Liverpool, England, in 1949 and currently works in Wuppertal, Germany.