Opening: 26 May (Friday), 18:00
Curator: Krzysztof Stanisławski
Coordinator: Olga Bazelak
Preliminary Stage Coordinator: Paulina Kuhn
Production: John McCormack (Tony Cragg Studio), Wojciech Ruminski (CoCA Toruń)
Tony Cragg (b. 1949) is a British sculptor, draftsman, installation and graphic artist, living and working in Wuppertal, Germany, since the 1970s. One of the foremost sculptors of our time, exhibiting from the 1970s to the present day in major museums and art galleries across the world.
Cragg graduated from the Wimbledon School of Art (1973) and the Royal College of Art (obtaining his MA in 1977), both in London. He was professor at the École des Beaux Arts in Metz, and then, for almost 40 years, at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (1978–2016, from 2009 to 2013 as Rector), along with Joseph Beuys and A. R. Penck, and made a substantial contribution to European art in the 1980s. Cragg also taught sculpture at the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris (1999–2009) and the Universität der Künste in Berlin (2001–2006).
His first solo show took place at the Lisson Gallery in London (1979), a venue he was to be associated with ever since. A conceptual artist initially, making use of photography and his own body, Cragg moved on to experiment with installation based on materials he found in the streets or in the dump. He used them to build bricolage sculptures displayed on gallery walls or floors. One of the main artists of New British Sculpture, next to Bill Woodrow, Richard Deacon and Anish Kapoor; the young artists radically changed modern sculpture, and the two of them who have enjoyed spectacular success in carving out their individual careers are Cragg and Kapoor, the latter considered from the very beginning – the mid-1980s – by critics and curators to be Cragg’s chief rival for primacy in the field of sculpture.
Before he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2016, Sir Anthony Cragg had been elected Royal Academician (1994), received Praemium Imperiale for sculpture in Tokyo (2007) and the 1st class Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2012).
In 1988, his show in the British Pavilion at the 43rd Venice Biennial was awarded Special Mention (Menzione Speziale) by the Jury as well as Britain’s most prestigious art award – the Turner Prize. His works featured again at the Venice Biennial, in 1997 and 2015, in accompanying exhibitions. The year 2001 brought him the Shakespeare Prize, and in 2002 Cragg received the Piepenbrock Prize for Sculpture, followed by numerous awards at international biennials.
His works have been displayed at the Lisson Gallery (regular shows between 1979 and 2023), Huston Contemporary Art Museum (1991), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (1995), Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1996), Henry Moore Foundation in Halifax (1996), Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1991), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf (1991), Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London (1999), Whitechapel Gallery in London (1997), Lenbachhaus in Munich (1998), Tate Gallery in Liverpool (2000), Central House of Artists in Moscow (2005), Louvre in Paris (2011), Ernst-Barlach-Haus in Hamburg (2012), Madison Square Park in New Jork, Benaki Museum in Athens (2015), Economic Forum in Davos (2015), Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Pantin, Paris and Salzburg (2016), Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (2016), Ludwig Museum in Koblenz (2017), Marian Goodman Gallery in New York (2017, 2022), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2017), Park Avenue in New York (2018), Albertina Museum in Vienna (2022), Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (2023).
In Poland, Cragg’s creative output was presented at the Foksal Gallery (1988), Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko (2016) and Wrocław Contemporary Museum (2017). The exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Toruń is the most comprehensive of these shows.
Tony Cragg’s sculptures are produced in his highly versatile studio in Wuppertal. The artist also runs a large sculpture park in the centre of Wuppertal, Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden, which functions as a public institution. It holds a collection of his works as well as sculptures by other artists from Germany and elsewhere, while three glass pavilions host temporary shows.
Presented in Toruń, the exhibition Tony Cragg. Sculptures and Works on Paper contains 53 mostly large-format sculptures executed in various techniques throughout the artist’s career – from those created in the 1970s to the latest ones, as well as 125 drawings, prints and watercolours. The show has been staged in close collaboration by the artist, Studio Cragg in Wuppertal, and curator Krzysztof Stanisławski.
Tony Cragg’s works are displayed in the Column Hall and the rooms on CoCA’s first floor, taking up a total area of 2,000 square metres, as well as on the ground floor and in the Contemporary Sculpture Park situated next to the CoCA building.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a review of films devoted to his oeuvre, and an extensive programme of educational events and workshops. A catalogue-monograph devoted to Tony Cragg’s creative output will be published, featuring texts by Polish, British and German authors.
The exhibition is held under honorary patronage of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prof. Piotr Gliński.
Co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.