In February 2014, Tate Britain will present a major exhibition of the work of Turner Prize winner Richard Deacon (b.1949), a leading British sculptor who first achieved international recognition in the early 1980s. Consisting of approximately 40 works, this chronological survey will include large, mid-scale and small sculptures shown alongside a series of important drawings. The show will celebrate his innovative use of form as well as his interest in working with a diverse range of materials.
Deacon is known for open structures where form is described not by its shape but by its boundary or edge. A number of such works will be included in the exhibition. These include After 1998, a huge serpentine form which balances volume, space and material in a way that plays with the viewers’ sense of interior and exterior. Its continuous and looping form explores depth, surface and structure.
Deacon has consistently described himself as a ‘fabricator’ – a maker of things who places emphasis on the construction and manipulation of materials. This will be highlighted by a group of works from his Art for Other People series which started in 1982, made with a diverse range of everyday materials including steel, foam, rubber, chrome, leather and marble. The show will also include a series of early drawings collectively titled It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing 1978. These have been of great importance in the making of subsequent sculptures, especially those that develop the possibilities of organic and curved forms, and in his thinking about language and communication.
The challenges Deacon sets himself grow from the nature of his materials and their relationship to an evolving form. His interest in ‘material diversity’ has led him to produce experimental new works in cardboard and ceramic, whilst expanding his vocabulary with other materials. For example, Restless 2005, is a continuous ribbon of stainless steel-braced wood, frozen as if in an agitated state.
Richard Deacon was born in Bangor, Wales, in 1949. He studied at Somerset College of Art, Taunton (1968), St Martin’s School of Art, London (1970-73) and the Royal College of Art (1974-77) where he gained an MA in Environmental Media. He has exhibited widely throughout the world with solo exhibitions, and in significant international surveys such as Documenta IX (1992) and Venice Biennale (2007). Deacon’s work is also permanently sited in locations around the world ranging from Yonge Square Plaza in Toronto, to Redheugh Bridge in Gateshead, from Krefeld in Germany to Auckland, New Zealand. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1987 and he has recently unveiled new public commissions for the Cornice of St. James’s Gateway, Piccadilly and the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (both 2013). He lives and works in London.
This exhibition is curated by Clarrie Wallis, Curator, Modern & Contemporary British Art with Sofia Karamani, Assistant Curator, Contemporary British Art. It will be accompanied by a book on the artist and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.
Tate Britain, Linbury Galleries 5 February – 27 April 2014