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Tony Cragg: A Rare Category Of Objects
Minster - courtesy the artist
There have been many times when I've looked at a sculpture and wondered:

1. Where did the idea come from?
2. How was it made?
3. What does it mean?
4. Do I like it or not?
5. Why?

In this fascinating exhibition spanning almost five decades of work by the Liverpool-born Tony Cragg, who has lived in Germany for 40 years, those questions are as relevant as you want them to be.

Caldera - photo by Michael Richter, Jonty Wilde
There is plenty of information about how Tony Cragg makes his sculptures, and in the Underground Gallery there are three rooms that show his drawings alongside the sculptures in the room. The Project Space gives an insight into how his work developed thanks to the loan of personal materials.

Caught Dreaming - photo by Michael Richter, Jonty Wilde
As to meaning, I'm of the view that for abstract work it doesn't have to have a meaning. You can interpret art in many ways and learn about the hows and whys but in the end it's your response to what you see that is the final arbiter.

And that makes this exhibition such a visual feast. There are early works and very recent ones, and you can see how Cragg's visions have progressed. These are extraordinary pieces, in bronze or wood or metal, and the smaller works inside are complemented by the more monumental sculptures dotted around the park.

Points of View - photo by Michael Richter, Jonty Wilde
Outside you'll find, at the entrance to the park, Caldera, a brooding bronze monster that could have come from an even more warped Jurassic Park. Points of View are three, tall, sinuous but craggy shapes, as if something inside them was trying to get out, and Caught Dreaming has a corrugated look with serpentine lines and the sense of a hulking creature waiting patiently for whatever it's waiting for.

Inside, amongst many other pieces, is Minster, from 1990, five tall cones made of what seem to be steel cogs from machinery. They are eye-catching and very different, reminding me of Game of Thrones iconography, though that TV series came much later than this. The works in wood include Spring, a stunning series of arch shapes that grow from small to large, and Group, created from many layers. With both you can see the polished grain and return to the question, how was it made?

Spring - photo by Michael Richter, Jonty Wilde
If you want to know you can find out, but for me I just wanted to look and, frankly, marvel at the creativity that went into the concept and execution of these sculptures. I will return, probably several times, with various small relatives who already love YSP and who will get another eye-opening experience. Families are always welcome and there are special events throughout the year to engage and stimulate their imaginations.

Peter Murray CBE, Yorkshire Sculpture Park's Founding and Executive Director is in no doubt that this is an exhibition that will bring Tony Cragg's work to an audience in Yorkshire that appreciates artistic quality and will be eager to explore what is on offer, saying:

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"In YSP's 40th year, the exhibition offers not only the opportunity to experience the work of one of the world's leading artists, but reinforces the life-affirming capacity of humanity to create. New sculptures, works on paper and pieces drawn from nearly five decades of Cragg's practice demonstrate the artist's pioneering and continued mastery of materials.

"The combination of the indoor gallery spaces and our historic landscape provides a perfect setting to appreciate and understand Cragg's visual language and the exhibition is a new challenge for an artist who has worked in most major institutions around the world."

Exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Until 3 September 2017

photos courtesy of Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Tony Cragg: A Rare Category Of Objects, 10th March 2017, 21:35 PM