Published  15/06/2021
Share:  

Tony Cragg at Houghton

Tony Cragg at Houghton

Tony Cragg’s alien sculptures land at Houghton Hall in Norfolk

Set in the stately rooms and gardens of Houghton Hall, Tony Cragg’s towering sculptures offer a contemporary counterpoint to the clipped hedges and Palladian buildings. This exhibition, curated by the sculptor himself, includes a varied collection of works crafted from steel and bronze, each one a monument to natural forms and human imagination.



Tony Cragg, In Frequencies, 2019. Wood, 190 x 114 x 187 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.

Cragg’s sculptures resemble organic forms, but organic forms not of this world. Some bring to mind columnar structures of rock that have been shaped by alien environments. Others look as though they are twisting and blooming, the strange flora of some unknown planet. Cragg, who won the Turner Prize in 1988 and represented Britain at the Venice Biennale that same year, has a way of transforming solid materials into seemingly mutable structures.



Tony Cragg, Tommy, 2013. Bronze, 360 x 290 x 220 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.

Sometimes the resultant pieces look geological; sometimes they take on bodily shapes. Two doughy forms twist in an embrace. A cloud-like stanchion seems to contain faces. For the way he suggests human parts in abstract sculptures, Cragg’s work is comparable to Anish Kapoors, who exhibited in the gardens of Houghton Hall last summer.



Tony Cragg, Skull, 2017. Aluminium, 190 x 137 x 105 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.

While some of Cragg’s sculptures stand proudly on the lawn, others hide from view in more private corners of the garden. In the house, set against replicas of ancient Greek statues and formal neo-classical interiors, Cragg’s work seems all the more otherworldly. One structure, rendered in highly polished steel, rises from the floor like tendrils of sentient mercury. Another, coloured in imperial purple, recalls an oyster shell – or perhaps petrified soundwaves, a signal from a far-off planet.



Tony Cragg, Ferryman, 2001. Bronze, 385 x 190 x 120 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.

Cragg’s sculptures come into being with the help of a team of assistants, who bring his complex inventions to realisation. But the finished products have a lightness to them that belie the many hours of production and the solidity of the materials. Houghton Hall offers the perfect environment for these pieces, which are the result of imagination, experimentation and a love of natural structures. Here, they have the space to speak for themselves, undiminished by their august surroundings.

Tony Cragg at Houghton
Houghton Hall, Norfolk
19 May – 26 September 2021

Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY
Words by EMILY SPICER



Tony Cragg, Pair, 2019. Stainless steel, 295 x 74 x 68 cm and 272 x 71 x 66 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.



Tony Cragg, Ferryman, 2001. Bronze, 385 x 190 x 120 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.



Tony Cragg, Stack, 2019. Bronze, 380 x 263 x 202 cm. Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.



Tony Cragg, It is, It isn't, 2014. Stainless steel, 310 x 100 x 122 cm. Installation view, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, 2021. Photo: Martin Kennedy.

 

Follow us twitter facebook instagram

Click on the pictures below to enlarge

studio international logo

Copyright © 1893–2021 Studio International Foundation.

The title Studio International is the property of the Studio International Foundation and, together with the content, are bound by copyright. All rights reserved.

twitter facebook instagram

Studio International is published by:
the Studio International Foundation, PO Box 1545,
New York, NY 10021-0043, USA