Tony Cragg has described sculpture as a counterpoint to the dominance of utility and the impoverishment of form and nature by humanity. See how that opposition looks in practice at the Albertina’s Sculpture: Body and Soul exhibition.
- Solo exhibition of Cragg’s works
- Features some 20 sculptures, plus drawings
- Runs Jul 7 – Nov 6, 2022
- See also:
- Current Albertina overview & info
- Other contemporary art exhibitions in Vienna
Sculpture: Body and Soul
(Tony Cragg, Off the Mountain, 2011; Gusseisen; Privatbesitz © Tony Cragg / Bildrecht, Wien 2022; photo: Michael Richter)
Tony Cragg counts as one of the world’s preeminent sculptors, notable for his abstract and figurative works using a range of materials, including the likes of kevlar as well as the more conventional steel, stone, and wood.
To grasp the magnitude of his renown, consider, for example, that he is a Turner Prize winner, received a knighthood from the UK, and was awarded the Chevalier des Arts Lettres by France. Visit the German federal parliament and you’ll find his installation Werdendes outside.
The Liverpool-born artist (who works out of Germany) receives due appreciation in summer and early autumn in Vienna with a solo exhibition at the Albertina. Sculpture: Body and Soul features some 20 sculptures.
Many of Cragg’s drawings also appear. In a 2017 interview with the Guardian, he explained his enthusiasm for that medium so:
Once you move the pencil, it becomes the most complicated, fantastic journey.
Wandering through the exhibition, I found myself wanting to run a hand over the surface of the smooth flowing sculptures (I didn’t give in to temptation).
Each piece also seems to encourage you to see imaginary forms and shapes that ebb and change as you circle a work: a face, bracket fungi, an alien civilisation, an Egyptian God encrusted with aged rock, a time-lapse representation of a gymnast’s ribbon.
Yes, my imagination ran away with me. But what is art if not to inspire?
The palais ambience of the Albertina feels like an excellent fit for Cragg’s mesmerising works, which are no stranger to historical locations.
- Cragg’s self-curated 2021 exhibition at Houghton Hall in Norfolk saw works dotted around the house and gardens of this early 18th-century estate
- His large-scale sculptures appeared in Cologne’s St. Agnes church in 2020
- And 2019 found various pieces in the Boboli Gardens of the Renaissance Palazzo Pitti in Florence
Cragg’s experience with historical environments makes me yearn for a piece to appear as part of Upper Belvedere’s Carlone Contemporary series, which places a contemporary installation among the 18th-century frescoes and architecture. (The current work there is Lena Henke’s Aldo Rossi’s Sleeping Elephant).
Cragg’s work has actually appeared before at Belvedere in the 2008 Tony Cragg versus Franz Messerschmidt exhibition, juxtaposing his sculptures with Messerschmidt’s famous Baroque character heads.
Fellow British sculptor, Marc Quinn, has just done something similar at the same location, but the exhibitions miss each other by a mere four days, sadly.
Tickets, dates & tips
Enjoy Cragg’s remarkable sculptures from July 7th to November 6th, 2022. A ticket for the Albertina museum includes access to the exhibition.
For more contemporary sculpture work using different materials, you might want to pop into the Heidi Horten Collection just over the road from the Albertina. Hans Kupelwieser’s 2022 ceiling relief in the tearoom, for example, features shaped anodised aluminium.
How to get to the exhibition
Just follow the travel tips at the bottom of the main Albertina page. The museum is sandwiched between the state opera house and the Hofburg palace complex that once formed the centre of the Habsburg monarchy.
Find Cragg’s sculptures on the ground floor, on the left as you go up the corridor leading away from the ticket check.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna