Tony Cragg: Seeing Things
September 10, 2011 – January 8, 2012
Yesterday I took the 4th graders from Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning center to the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Dallas Museum of Art. The Dallas ISD schedules every 4th grade class for a DMA field trip each year, and the Nasher allows us to tour the sculpture galleries for free on the same day.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to view the Tony Cragg: Seeing Things exhibit at the Nasher. It's the first U.S. museum exhibition in nearly 20 years of Cragg's work. The exhibition will be on view at the Nasher Sculpture Center from September 10, 2011 to January 8, 2012.
The show features about 30 large to mid-sized sculptures dating from 1993 on up to some of his current work. While Cragg's work can appear non-objective with a casual glance, there are actually many hidden treasures to be found. My students loved discovering the various figurative references in the sculptures. Many of the pieces contain profiles and parts of faces that are only obvious from certain angles. Most of the larger works in the main gallery were made of wood, and the different grain patterns added another layer of interpretation to the work, often alluding to other materials in nature. Some seem to suggest rock formations or sea shells.
Critics praise Cragg for his innovative forms and his ability to tie together his interests in science and literature with an intuitive response to his materials. The downstairs gallery featured a small selection of drawings that reveal part of his process. My students particularly enjoyed the drawings created from binary rows of 0's and 1's that resolve into bedrooms and forests when viewed at a distance.
Outside in the sculpture garden there are a few more Cragg sculptures, including a large stainless steel piece polished to a mirror finish. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition against the more organic feeling wood structures inside. I'm planning to make a return visit to the Nasher and try to spend a little more time with Cragg's work. It's an exhibit all ages can enjoy, and it's easy to see why the art world considers Cragg so highly.