One Space, Four Places
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'One Space, Four Places' by the English artist Tony Cragg is composed of waste materials which he found, such as cans, plastic bottles, sponges, pieces of brick wood, cork, card and earthenware. All these objects are about the same size and are threaded onto metal rods. Cragg then welded them together to make shapes which are recognizable as a table and four chairs. These five objects are presented in a line, so that one chair stands at the short side of the table, while there are three chairs on the other side. They are arranged rather untidily in relation to each other.
Cragg has made floor and wall sculptures since 1978 which are composed using coloured plastic waste material. His preference for the materials which he finds reveals similarities with the Arte Povera school. He arranges his materials in simple geometrical patterns, but also arranges it in ways which are recognizable from contemporary visual culture. The work 'Red Skin', is shaped like a plastic Indian that he found and is an example of this. With his work, Cragg refers to his fellow countryman, Richard Long, who has also made arrangements on floors since the 1960s, but using materials such as wood and stone. Like Long, Cragg tried to redefine the concept of sculpture. While Long was making use of natural materials, Cragg took his materials from the new “natural” human environment, the industrialized world with its mass consumerism and waste production.
After his flat arrangements, Cragg started to make spatial objects which were based on household articles, but they were made of unusual materials. Cragg was concerned with: “Creating objects which do not exist in the natural or functional world, which can provide feelings and an insight into how the contemporary world works and how I relate to it.” Initially working as a scientific researcher, he opted for a career as an artist because he thought that science was too limited. Art provided him with a broader context which invites reflection about the world and how it operates. He said: “I think it is important to make sculptures as a sort of conceptual model that helps to understand the world better.” Cragg’s statues have a recognizable element, but they are alienating because of the curious choice of materials and in his later works, the great enlargement of scale.
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