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Cragg represented Britain in the 43rd International Art Exhibition (la Biennale di Venezia) in 1988 and in the same year he was awarded the Turner Prize at Tate Gallery in London. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1994, made a CBE in 2003 and received the 1st Class Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2012. Among many major solo exhibitions Cragg has shown at CAFA Museum in Beijing (2012), Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (1991) and Tate Gallery in London (1988).
Anthony Cragg was born in Liverpool in 1949. He originally trained as a scientist and had a job as a Laboratory Technician at the National Rubber Producers Research Association (1966-68). At the age of 17, while working as a Laboratory Technician, Cragg developed an interest in drawing and soon discovered his vocation as a visual artist. In 1968, Cragg joined the foundation course at Gloucester College of Art and Design in Cheltenham. He progressed on to an undergraduate course at Wimbledon School of Art (1970-73), where he was taught by artist Roger Ackling, who introduced Cragg to the sculptors Richard Long, Bill Woodrow and Richard Deacon.
In 1973 Cragg won a place on the post-graduate sculpture course at Royal College of Art in London. In 1977, after completing his studies, Cragg married Ute Oberste-Lehn and moved to her hometown of Wuppertal in Germany, where he has lived and worked since. Cragg has two sons from his first marriage, Daniel Cragg and Thomas Cragg, and two children from his second marriage with painter Tatjana Valsang, John Eric Cragg and Catharina Cragg. Since 2001 Cragg also lives and works on the island Tjörn, located on the Swedish West coast.
Cragg started teaching at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1978 as a dozent and as a professor in 1988. Between 2001-2006 Cragg taught at the Universität der Künste (UdK) in Berlin and returned to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 2006. He served as Pro-Rector for 16 years and served as Director from 2010 till 2014. During his tenure the academy appointed 14 new professors, implemented a new law governing art academies in Nord Rhein Westfalen, oversaw a series of exhibitions of art made in the academy since World War II and facilitated the publication of Die Geschichte der Kunstakademie Düsseldorf seit 1945: Herausgegeben von der Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2014).
Cragg’s early works, dating from 1975 to 1978, were ‘montages’ of raw materials and manufactured goods; such as the ‘piles’, ‘stacks’ and ‘heaps’ of discarded materials that he formed into pure volumetric cubes (as in Stack, 1975). By 1978 he was presenting figures and forms made up of scraps of urban industrial products and artifacts according to their artificial colour and profile. Cragg often outlined the shapes of found images – such as an American Indian, as in Red Indian (1982-3) – on the ground or on the walls of exhibition spaces, often composed chromatically. One of such works, titled Britain Seen From the North (1981), features the outline of the island of Great Britain in relief on the wall, orientated so that Northern Britain is positioned to the left. To the left of the island is the figure of man, apparently Cragg himself, looking at the country from the position of an outsider. The piece is constructed from found urban detritus and is often interpreted as commenting on the economic difficulties effecting Britain at the time, which had particular effect in the north. This range of predominantly man-made materials that Cragg was working with at this time in his career furnished him with the thematic concerns that have become central to his work up to the present.
After moving to Germany in the late 1970s, Cragg had several solo exhibitions including his first at Lisson Gallery, London (1979); Lützozstr. Situation, Berlin (1979) and Künstlerhaus Weidenallee, Hamburg (1979). He also exhibited in seminal group shows including the Silver Jubilee Sculpture Show, Battersea Park, London (1977); Europa-Kunst der 80er Jahre, Stuttgart (1979); Kunst in Europa na ’68, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Gent (1980) and L’art degli anni Settanta/Aperto ’80, Venice Biennale (1980). Cragg articulated his early artistic concerns in a statement published in the catalogue of Documenta 7 (1982):
‘’The need to know both objectively and subjectively more about the fragile relationships between us, objects, images and essential natural processes and conditions is becoming critical. It is very important to have first-order experiences – seeing, touching, smelling, hearing – with objects and images and to let that experience register.”
In the early 1980s, Cragg exhibited at Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (1980); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1980); Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal (1981); Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1982); Documenta 7, Kassel (1982) and the Hayward and Serpentine Galleries, London (1983). Since then Cragg as exhibited extensively at many of world’s most important art institutions. By the end of the decade Cragg received the Turner Price at the Tate Gallery in London (1988), represented Britain at the 42. Venice Biennale (1988) and was appointed Professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1988-2001). Durind this decade of his career Cragg was awarded the Chevalier des Arts Lettres (1992) and appointed Royal Academician in London (1994). He exhibited at the 45. Venice Biennale (1993); The National Gallery, Prague (1995); MNAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1996); MACBA, Barcelona (1997) and the Royal Academy, London (1999).
Cragg moved away from installation art in the latter part of the 1980s and thereafter began making his first sculptures in more traditional materials such as cast iron, bronze, glass and stone; such as Terris Novalis (1991), Spirogyra (1992), Complete Omnivore (1993), Passers-by (1994), Administered Landscape (1994), Boy (1996), Zufuhr (1996), Forminifera (1997), Flotsam (1998) and Secretions (1998). Throughout the 1990s Cragg continued to develop two broad bodies of work – Early Forms and Rational Beings. The Early Forms series investigate the possibilities of manipulating everyday, familiar vessels (such as vases or plastic bottles) and they ways in which they morph into and around themselves.  The Rational Beings sculptures take the outline of human gestures or profiles as a point of departure for further elaborations on natural processes. These works can be characterized as having clear organic qualities while simultaneously being rigorously geometric, as are most forms found in nature and as a consequence so are man-made forms. In the early 1990s Cragg was awarded the Chevalier des Arts Lettres (1992) and was soon after appointed Royal Academician in London (1994).  During this decade of his career he exhibited at the 45. Venice Biennale (1993); National Gallery, Prague (1995); MNAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1996); MACBA, Barcelona (1997) and the Royal Academy, London (1999). 
In the early 2000s Cragg was awarded the Shakespeare Prize (2001) and the Piepenbrock Prize for Sculptures (2002). He was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) (2002), Honorary Doctor of the Royal College of Art, London (2009), Professor at the Universitüt der Künste, Berlin (2001-2006) and began a Professorship at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2006). Among many major solo shows, Cragg exhibited at Tate Gallery Liverpool (2000); MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2003); and The Central House of Artists, Moscow (2005). Since 2010, Cragg has been appointed Honorary Fellow of University of the Arts London (2012); awarded Artist’s Medal of Honor of the Hermitage, Russia (2012) as well as the 1st Class Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2012). He has exhibited at the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2011), the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh (2011) and at CAFA Museum in Beijing (2012). Since 2000 Cragg has created a host of new works that conform to the continuity of his artistic trajectory. Amongst new developments in his oeuvre is an increase in sculptures that can be exhibited outdoors; works in bronze, steel, stone, wood and glass; as well as a vigorous return to his initial interest in art – that of drawing.
Thirty years after Cragg began working as an artist, he began looking for a permanent site for presenting sculpture outdoors and discovered an abandoned property in Waldfrieden Park, Wuppertal, which he bought in in 2006. That same year he began redesigning the park grounds and also the buildings that, after long years of vacancy, needed to be thoroughly renovated and modernized. In appreciation of the historical estate, its former structures and material substance were preserved to the greatest extent possible, keeping its historical dimension intact despite the conversion of the park and buildings to accommodate new uses. In 2008, the Sculpture Park was opened under the auspices of the Cragg family's nonprofit foundation. It houses a steadily growing collection of sculpture, including examples from Tony Cragg's own large oeuvre. All this is accompanied by changing exhibitions of internationally known artists, lectures on culture and the humanities, and concerts. Beyond this, the Cragg Foundation is dedicated to research into, and the publication of works on, the fine arts.
“There is this idea that sculpture is static, or maybe even dead, but I feel absolutely contrary to that. I’m not a religious person – I’m an absolute materialist – and for me material is exciting and ultimately sublime. When I’m involved in making sculpture, I’m looking for a system of belief or ethics in the material. I want that material to have a dynamic, to push and move and grow."
“I also want that to happen over the course of making things, so that as soon as one generation of sculptures has gone up, another generation is coming on and things are growing up around me. That’s how it seems to work for me.”