Tony Cragg - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Buchmann, Basel

  • Catalogue Essay

    Tony Cragg reassesses, recycles, and re-examines materials in ways that have never been imagined in sculptural form before. His work is inspired not by a preconception, but by astute observation and attention to the world around him; through his reinvention and redefinition of materials, he seeks to decode the esoteric environment around us. This comes from a scientific approach, which is rooted in his background of working in biochemistry labs, investigation changing physical and chemical properties, forming his judicious and unwavering observation skills. His early projects reveal a strong analogy with the theoretical foundations of quantum physics, moving him out of the studio and into the environment in his search for materials. He began collecting things, reinventing them after being discarded as useless.
    In his exploration, he started to investigate the tension between human structures and concealed natural processes. He sought new literal and metaphorical functions of the material and began to explore its place in the world. His work in the early 1980s is the after effect of an explosion from this investigation. In the present lot, Paysage avec Lac ( Landscape with Lake), 1985, the cubes have arranged themselves from the debris and wreckage into something vaguely familiar. This series of work was inspired by memories Cragg had of driving, noticing shapes as they pass by, some standing out andothers constantly blurred or shifting along the horizon. The scribbles all over the surface function like a map tracing the rapid motion of the eye as it gazes out of the window and follows the passing objects. The forms transform before our eyes into things our memories recognize; the shape of a building, the silhouette of a tree, the outline of a lake. The dichotomy of reinventing materials, yet recalling old memories is a truly fascinating and unparalleled concept. Landscape with Lake is a formation of something foreshadowed in the mind, but that does not actually exist in the natural world. It is a reflection of a feeling, a memory, a dream about the world and our existence. In explaining his work, Cragg reveals, “We find objects offering up meanings and emotions relating to their literal form, their metaphysics, their poetry, and their emergence from the natural world, or from their origins of nature” (“Tony Cragg,” Artforum, March 1988, p. 120).


Paysage avec Lac (Landscape with Lake)


Oil stick on found wood and found metal.

82 x 99 x 64 in. (208.3 x 251.5 x 162.6 cm).

$90,000 - 120,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

12 Nov 2009
New York