Tony Cragg Unveils New Exhibition At Sublime Castle Howard

Tony Cragg Castle Howard Photo © Artlyst 2024

The internationally acclaimed sculptor Tony Cragg has unveiled his latest exhibition in the serine environment of Castle Howard, one of Europe’s best-known stately homes.

“Tony Cragg at Castle Howard,” from 3rd May to 22nd September 2024, is poised to be a transformative experience for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. It will be the first major exhibition by a leading contemporary artist to be shown on the historic estate, alongside the rich cultural heritage of their Roman antiquities collection and paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Stubbs. Castle Howard is renowned worldwide for its backdrop in iconic films like Brideshead Revisited, Bridgerton and Barry Lyndon.

Cragg’s sculptures and drawings take centre stage, showcasing an array of new and recent sculptures curated across the estate’s sprawling grounds. From imposing bronze monuments to delicate glass sculptures, the exhibition transcends traditional boundaries, integrating Cragg’s visionary works into the fabric of Castle Howard’s architectural marvels, evoking a sense of awe and wonder.

Tony Cragg Castle Howard Photo © Artlyst 2024
Interior Tony Cragg Castle Howard Photo © Artlyst 2024

Among the standout pieces is Cragg’s monumental sculpture “Over the Earth” (2015), a breathtaking 5-meter-wide masterpiece poised majestically atop a plinth in the Ray Wood reservoir—a first-time display in the UK that promises to captivate audiences with its sheer grandeur and artistic ingenuity. Additionally, visitors can marvel at “Eroded Landscape” (1999), a thought-provoking installation nestled within the hallowed confines of Castle Howard’s famed Temple of the Four Winds, offering a striking juxtaposition of past and present.

As curator Dr Jon Wood aptly notes, Cragg’s oeuvre transcends mere artistic expression, serving as a catalyst for introspection and exploration. His works, animated by a dynamic interplay of form and function, inspire viewers to reimagine their perceptions of the world—an invitation underscored by the exhibition’s immersive narrative and thought-provoking installations, sparking a sense of inspiration and reflection in every visitor.

In a statement reflecting on the significance of the exhibition, Tony Cragg expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to showcase his work amidst Castle Howard’s enchanting landscape—a sentiment echoed by Victoria and Nicholas Howard, custodians of the estate, who laud Cragg’s artistry as a testament to the enduring relevance of classical sculpture in contemporary society.

Tony Cragg, born on April 9, 1949, in Liverpool, England, is a well-known sculptor celebrated for his innovative exploration of form, materials, and space. Raised in the industrial heartland of England, Cragg’s early exposure to the mechanical and organic elements of his surroundings would influence his artistic vision.

Tony Cragg Castle Howard Photo © Artlyst 2024
Tony Cragg Castle Howard Photo © Artlyst 2024

After studying at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design and Wimbledon School of Art, Cragg embarked on a prolific career spanning over five decades. Emerging onto the international art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he quickly gained recognition for his groundbreaking approach to sculpture, which challenged conventional notions of shape and composition.

Cragg’s oeuvre encompasses various materials, ranging from bronze and stainless steel to wood, glass, and even found objects. His sculptural language defies categorization, oscillating between abstraction and figuration while consistently exploring themes of transformation, movement, and the relationship between humanity and the environment.

Throughout his career, Cragg has exhibited extensively in prestigious institutions and galleries worldwide, solidifying his status as one of the leading figures in contemporary sculpture. Notable exhibitions include presentations at the Tate Gallery in London, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

In addition to his artistic practice, Cragg has played a pivotal role in shaping the discourse surrounding contemporary sculpture through his teaching and mentorship. He has held professorships at renowned institutions such as the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he served as director from 2009 to 2013.

Cragg has been honoured throughout his illustrious career with numerous awards and accolades, including the Turner Prize 1988 and the Praemium Imperiale Award 2007. His contributions to the field of sculpture have earned him widespread acclaim and recognition, cementing his legacy as a visionary artist whose work continues to captivate and inspire audiences around the globe.

Photos: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2024

A catalogue has been produced to accompany the exhibition.

“Tony Cragg at Castle Howard,” from 3rd May to 22nd September 2024 

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