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Anthony (Tony) Cragg was born on April 9, 1949, in Liverpool. From 1969 to 1977 he studied at Gloucestershire College of Art in Cheltenham and the Wimbledon School of Art and Royal College of Art in London. In 1977 he moved to Germany and taught at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The following year he had his first solo exhibitions, at the Lisson Gallery in London, Lutzowstrasse Situation in Berlin, and Kunstlerhaus Weidenallee in Hamburg. At a time in which Minimalism, Conceptual art, and Arte Povera were dominant, Cragg came to be considered one of the leading figures of the renewal of sculpture.
Like Carl Andre, Richard Long, and Bruce Nauman, among others, Cragg extended the realm of sculpture by introducing new materials; his first sculpture was made of plastic, for example, and he also included found objects and various raw materials in his work. In doing so, Cragg attempted to adapt the components of his work to the world around him. He differentiated between art conceived in a certain ideal framework—like the work of Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, and Andy Warhol—and art created by instinct in relation to the world, like that of Edgar Degas, Medardo Rosso, and Joseph Beuys.
In the 1980s Cragg’s work became influenced by scientists and philosophers such as Isaac Newton and Alain Prochiantz. He began to create wood sculptures whose forms are reminiscent of the domestic architecture of the Norwegian fjords region and giant versions of laboratory equipment. Cragg participated in Documenta in Kassel in 1982 and 1987, and represented England at the Venice Biennale in 1988, the same year he received the Turner Prize. In 1994 he was elected to the Royal Academy. Cragg lives and works in Wuppertal, Germany.