Tony Cragg – Tools/Litmus – 1996/99

sensitivity to materials is fundamental both to Tony Cragg’s approach to his sculpture and to our appreciation of it.Materials have an emotional resonance as much as a necessary presence: they can be seen as the necessary mother of invention.Often craggs works can be arranged by themes that reflect how the choice of material has determined the form of the sculpture.

cragg expresses a view of aesthetics as a dialogue, an exchange of meanings: the material receives meaning for the intervention of the artist; the artist gains meaning from the response of the material.


Craggs works invites a strong visceral response. not only is the concrete, tangible nature of the object/material inescapable, but there is an overtly sensual appreciation of texture, surface and colour. the initial impact is made in terms of the senses, or ‘ first order experience’. from a sensory response to sensual thought to abstract speculation seems almost an inevitable sequence of steps. by identifying an underlying order, and by revealing something of the connections between the laws governing the man-made world and those attributed to the organic world, Cragg attempts to indicate to contemporary man routes that start from a very elementary, almost primal level of direct and immediate response to simply presented matter.

Craggs work seems to be mainly of a primary order- pertaining to the infantile or preverbal phase of learning and experience – they retain a ‘rawness’. they allow to supersede habitual and jaded reactions and to let sensory delight flood in.

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