Since his first solo exhibition in 1979 at Lisson Gallery in London, British artist Tony Cragg has received global recognition as one of the most influential artists of our time. In the years following that first show, Cragg’s work was eagerly acquired by private collectors and museums, as well as being exhibited in numerous prestigious institutions such as the Louvre, Paris; The National Gallery, Prague; and the Royal Academy, London.
Ray and Patsy Nasher developed an intimate relationship with the artist fairly early into his exceptional career, Cragg sharing the Nasher’s deep interest in the exploration of the potential of sculpture, drawing upon a broad array of intellectual interests—science, philosophy, poetry—to create fully realized, sophisticated, yet refreshingly experimental works of art. This spirit of curiosity and innovation is precisely what drew Cragg and the Nashers so closely together, and they first introduced Cragg into their permanent collection in the early 1990’s. Over the next decade, the momentum of recognition for Cragg only accelerated as he was presented with the art world’s most esteemed awards including the Turner Prize, the Shakespeare Prize, and the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture.
Despite the artist’s persistent global success, Cragg’s pace of exhibition in the U.S. was disproportionately slow. While the Nashers initially introduced Dallas to Cragg’s work through their private collection, more recently the Nasher Sculpture Center reacquainted the U.S. artist by bringing his first major exhibition in the states in 20 years. The 2011 exhibition, Tony Cragg: Seeing Things, offered a thorough examination of the artist’s work over a 20 year span, featuring approximately 30 sculptures ranging from earlier works such as Eroded Landscape (1998), a densely piled arrangement of frosted glass objects, to the 2001 Ferryman series in pierced bronze, to the monumental Ever After series (2010) comprised of gnarled pillars in bronze and wood. With his return to the United States for the Nasher show, the artist brought an entirely new perspective on his sculpture, straying from his “materialist” reputation to create bold, polished, and quite traditional pieces from classic materials such as wood and bronze. The Wall Street Journal said of the show, “few major artists today make objects as joyously beautiful as the British sculptor Tony Cragg… What makes him important is his transformation of raw matter into art that transcends but never allows us to forget its material.”
Recently, the artist returned for another collaboration with the Nasher, releasing a series of limited-edition sculptures available for sale through the Nasher. The small sculpture edition, called Loop, is based on a series of works called Rational Beings—compositions that suggest facial profiles that spiral fluidly or stagger upward from certain points of view—several of which were featured in Seeing Things, Cragg’s 2011 Nasher exhibition.