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  • Provenance

    John C. Stoller & Co., Minneapolis; Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    British sculptor Tony Cragg transforms simple found materials and household objects into complex arrangements through visually stimulating fragmentation and juxtaposition. The present lot demonstrates one category of Cragg’s larger body of work, in which he collects discarded plastic remnants and arranges them by color in order to form larger shapes. In this case, Cragg’s plastic pieces come together to form an artist’s palette, which is perhaps a metaphor for the way some artists seek creative inspiration in ordinary objects, and even in recycled material.
     
    The phenomenon of gathering materials and hoarding them as supplies for an art piece is deeply rooted in the 1980s. This decade marked a period of increased attention to manufactured commodities and a heightened culture of materialism, as some nations’ economies boomed and others’ struggled. By artistically presenting a conglomeration of items from consumer culture, all in the artificial and quintessentially commercial medium of plastic, Cragg uses Palette to transform scraps of goods—the castoffs of human consumerism—into an aesthetically pleasing art piece.
     
    For Cragg, nothing goes to waste and the phrase "One man’s trash is another man’s treasure" rings utterly true. There is this idea that sculpture is static, or maybe even dead, but I feel absolutely contrary to that. I’m not a religious person—I’m an absolute materialist—and for me material is exciting and ultimately sublime. When I’m involved in making sculpture, I’m looking for a system of belief or ethics in the material. I want that material to have a dynamic, to push and move and grow. I also want that to happen over the course of making things, so that as soon as one generation of sculptures has gone up, another generation is coming on and things are growing up around me. That’s how it seems to work for me.
     
    (From an interview with Tony Cragg and Robert Ayers, ART INFO, 2007)

20

Palette

1984
Found plastic objects and painted acrylic panel with accompanying installation instructions.
Panel: 73 x 78 1/3 in. (185.4 x 199 cm).

Estimate
$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $74,500

80s

17 December 2010
New York