Tony Cragg - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | Phillips

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  • 'I think that the way that we look at sculpture is important, because it’s not moving and you realize how kineastically you look at it — you are the moving element.' —Tony Cragg 

    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 think that the way that we look at sculpture is important, because it’s not moving and you realize how kineastically you look at it — you are the moving element. What a challenge this is for our perceptions. Perhaps you were going to ask, ‘What is your favourite material?’ The most important material is our own brains, because that’s where you effect the change. Change outside is OK, but the real change is in our own brains - Tony Cragg


    Tony Cragg, Close Quarters, An Evolution from Rational Beings


    Close Quarters pertains to a series of sculptures, executed in a more house-able scale, contrasting to the monumental figures Tony Cragg has created throughout his career. Executed in 2006, this work made of bronze twists and turns, emulating a sense of geological formation. Hinted by its namesake, Close Quarters can be displayed on a plinth, indoors for domestic viewership. It is a development from Cragg’s Early Forms and Rational Beings, bodies of work that have been worked and reworked, concerned with the relationship between the organic and geometric elements that are essential to human anatomy. His early obsession with materiality and its relationship between people birthed a life-long exploration of ideas and forms he could conceive. One can make out human profiles from the protruding and receding angles of Close Quarters. The fluidity of the forms encourages emotional responses, but the rigidity of the material alludes to the rational and mathematical process of its execution. 


    Tony Cragg receiving the Turner Prize in 1988
    Tony Cragg receiving the Turner Prize in 1988

    Dialogues Within Materiality


    Tony Cragg has been pushing the boundaries of the notions surrounding the discipline of sculpture since the 1970s. He came to international prominence in the early 1980s with a varied portfolio of works ranging from figures to landscapes with found objects made of plastic and stone. By the end of the decade, Cragg moved away from recycled or ‘processed’ materials in his practice and focused solely on ‘raw’ materials such as bronze, steel and carved wood, transitioning from a dialogue of the throw away material to the offerings of nature. This change defined Cragg’s underlying questions of purpose and uselessness in sculpture. They exist outside what he has called the ‘limited utilitarian censored reality,’ for he thinks that no sculptor should be driven by what is useful and what is not. He or she should instead ‘make forms that will exist and last forever outside of this reality.’ i Since his first major retrospective in London in 1987, Tony Cragg has been featured in major exhibitions internationally. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1988 and have been named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France. Cragg was also appointed Royal Academician in London in 1994.


    Tony Cragg and Patrick Elliott on his practice with an emphasis on material, created for his exhibition, Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Drawings, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 30 July – 6 November 2011.


    i Tony Cragg quote in Tony Cragg Familiae, exh. cat., Neues Museum Nürnberg, Neurnberg, 2005, p. 53

    • Provenance

      Buchmann Galerie, Berlin
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006

    • Exhibited

      Berlin, Buchmann Galerie, Tony Cragg Sculptures, 28 April - 3 June 2006


Close Quarters

stamped with the artist's initials and dated 'T. C. 2006' lower edge
141 x 60 x 68 cm (55 1/2 x 23 5/8 x 26 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2006.

Full Cataloguing

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £264,600

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Director

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 21 October 2020