Figure out / Figure in
The Louvre is now playing host to a group of works by the leading British contemporary sculptor, Tony Cragg, installed under the Louvre’s famous Glass Pyramid. The exhibition opened on 26 January and runs through October 2011. In addition, to the visual dialogue which transcends the centuries between Tony Cragg and other sculpture at the Louvre The seven works selected inhabits the space formed by the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget. The varying dimensions, shapes and types reflect the sculptor’s broad use of materials including bronze, marble, fiberglass and wood. The colors white, red and black predominate and circumvolutions around a central axis, displacement of oblique overhanging elements ,lateral planes, accumulation of numerous fine layers, puncturing of surfaces are all central to the design of his work. Sculptures conceived on the same themes, but of different sizes, allow visitors to consider the question of scale, and a sculpture in two parts resonates with a number of works in the Louvre’s collections.
As a counterpoint to the presentation at the Louvre the first retrospective in France devoted to the Bavarian-born Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736–1783), the museum plays host to a group of sculptures by the leading British contemporary artist Tony Cragg, to be shown in the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget. In addition, the Louvre is pleased to feature a monumental sculpture by the artist, produced especially for the exhibition and displayed under the pyramid.
In 2008, an exhibition at the Belvedere in Vienna also juxtaposed works by these two sculptors. But here the visual dialogue across the centuries between Tony Cragg and Messerschmidt’s “character heads” is limited to a single bronze sculpture by this major contemporary sculptor, Level Head (2005) which, like the masterpieces of his 18th-century predecessor, through its distortions and superimposed layers, depicts a particularly expressive human face, from a very specific viewpoint.
As part of the invitation extended to Tony Cragg, a new sculpture by the artist, produced especially for this exhibition, is to be installed under I. M. Pei’s pyramid, at the entrance column. Vacant since the inauguration of the pyramid in 1989, this exhibition space was nevertheless intended in the architect’s conception for the presentation of a contemporary work of art.
Tony Cragg is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London and has lived and worked in Wuppertal, Germany since 1977. He has explored a wide variety of types of practice in sculpture and has made vast contributions to contemporary debates on sculpture. His artworks are complex phenomena based on familiar natural and everyday objects reaching towards an abstract appreciation of the human body. Tony Cragg was awarded the Turner Prize in 1988 and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1994. Since 2009, he is principal of the academy of arts in Düsseldorf.