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Creator:
Tony Cragg, born 1949, British
Title:

Grey Container

Date:
1983
Medium:
Wood, ceramic, glass and crayon
Dimensions:
68 1/2 x 72 x 19 1/2 inches (174 x 182.9 x 49.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Gerald W. and Jean W. Bush
Copyright Status:
© The Artist
Accession Number:
B2000.11.1
Classification:
Sculptures
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
abstract art | bottles | shelf | trays | troughs
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:48765
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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The sculptor Tony Cragg is best known for his exploration of different materials, notably manufactured objects and waste products. Initially a technician in a biochemistry laboratory, Cragg adopted scientific methods in his artwork. Grey Container is consistent with the body of works he produced during the 1980s, comprising a systematic arrangement of recognizable objects. Made of individual elements that are not evidently joined, Grey Container appears precariously balanced. Yet, compositionally, it reads like a piece of domestic furniture, such as a cupboard or shelving unit. Rows of green bottles are deployed as supports for a shelf-like structure incorporating boxes, a plank, and a brick. The surfaces of these disparate objects are covered in white wax crayon scribbles, which personalize these manufactured materials with the artist’s hand. According to Cragg, furniture is "an extension of human beings and reflects their activities." He is interested in the ability of domestic furniture to humanize our environment.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2020



The sculptor Tony Cragg is best known for his exploration of different materials, notably manufactured objects and waste products. Grey Container is consistent with the body of works he produced during the 1980s, comprising an arrangement (not unlike a still life) of recognizable objects. Made of individual elements that are not evidently joined, Grey Container appears precariously balanced. Yet, compositionally, it reads like a piece of domestic furniture, such as a cupboard or shelving unit. Rows of green bottles are deployed as supports for a shelf-like structure incorporating boxes, a plank, and a brick. The surfaces of these disparate objects are covered in white wax crayon scribbles, which personalize these manufactured materials with the artist’s hand. According to Cragg, furniture is “an extension of human beings and reflects their activities.” He is interested in the ability of domestic furniture to humanize our environment.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



Tony Cragg belongs to a gifted group of British sculptors who emerged with distinctive voices and visions in the 1970s. They reacted against the abstraction and the formalized nature of British sculpture of the previous decade. They deliberately courted informal compositions, using unfamiliar and strikingly non-artistic materials as Cragg does in "Grey Container". All the parts of the sculpture are drawn from objects of daily use. Ironically, for all the seeming informality and improvisation, the sculpture is poised and precarious: the troughs and trays are supported by the bottles and nothing else. The combination of the informal and the tense are amusingly tied together with the calligraphic drawing that Cragg runs across all parts of the sculpture. The combination of objects drawn from daily life, with their suggestion of castaway refuse, becomes a strangely luminous and lyrical sculpture.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2001

Germano Celant, Tony Cragg, Thames and Hudson, London, p. 75, plate 32, NJ18 C836 C45 1996 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Cragg Foundation, Anthony Cragg, v. 2, Buchhandlung Walther Ko¨nig, Ko¨ln, p. 371, NJ18.C836 A12 2017 (LC) Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]


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