Anthony Cragg's "Human Nature" at Istanbul Modern

Istanbul Modern’s first temporary exhibition at its interim space in Beyoğlu features works by the sculptor Anthony Cragg from each of his artistic periods. Sponsored by Ferko, the exhibition “Human Nature” will be on view between May 23 – November 11, 2018

Istanbul Modern’s temporary space opens with an exhibition of the works of Anthony Cragg, one of the most original and innovative artists in contemporary sculpture today. A press conference was held on the occasion of the exhibition “Human Nature”, at which the artist was also present. Sponsored by Ferko, a firm noted for its support of culture and the arts, the exhibition was made possible by the contributions of the British Consulate General in Istanbul and the British Council.

Curated by Istanbul Modern Director General Levent Çalıkoğlu, “Human Nature” integrates Cragg’s experiments in sculpture into a comprehensive and chronological whole.

Presented in the exhibition are as examples from his “Early Forms” and “Rational Beings” series, in which he experimented with a variety of materials and techniques over the years.

The press conference was attended by Chair of the Board of Istanbul Modern Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chair of Ferko Ferit Meriçten, Istanbul Modern Director General Levent Çalıkoğlu, and the artist Anthony Cragg, who shared with the audience information about the exhibition, which sheds light on his production processes over his more than 40-year-long career.

Chair of the Board of Istanbul Modern Oya Eczacıbaşı:

We are delighted to host the works of the celebrated sculptor Anthony Cragg in the opening exhibition of our temporary space in Beyoğlu, where we will be located for the next three years until our new museum building in Karaköy is completed. In our first temporary exhibition in the historical Union Française building, where our museum will be accommodated for some time, art lovers will have the opportunity to observe and learn about the different periods of the more than 40-year careerof Cragg, whose works are found in leading museum and institution collections around the world. Pushing form, color, and material beyond their limits, Cragg challenges the definition of sculpture and, by introducing diversity, endows it with a multilayered richness. Istanbul Modern’s audience had previously gotten to know Cragg through his work “Ugly Faces”, which was included in our earlier collection exhibitions. On behalf of all art lovers, I would like to convey my warm gratitude to Ferit Meriçten and our generous sponsor Ferko, who made it possible for us to realize in Istanbul the first exhibition of this scope of works by this world-renowned sculptor.

Chair of Ferko Ferit Meriçten:

Anthony Cragg is one of the most important living sculptors in the world. What has fascinated me about him for years is the limitlessness of the materials he uses and the fact that he is so well acquainted with the material. His interest in science and nature and his relationship with nature and humans have led us to ask different questions about sculpture and make new discoveries.

Anthony Cragg also holds a very important place in our collection. “Must Be”, his largest outdoor sculpture in Turkey, has taken its place at the entrance of our newly completed Ferko Signature office building in Levent, and has already become the building’s symbol. As Ferko, it has always been a priority for us to create projects that are intimately related to art, and to support projects that add value to our everyday lives through art. And our new project “Ferko Art Space”, which will be implemented in September, will give us the opportunity to extend our mission to wider audiences. In this context, it is very meaningful for us to contribute to the realization of this major and comprehensive exhibition, which covers the different periods of Anthony Cragg and how they evolved throughout his artistic practice.

Istanbul Modern Director Levent Çalıkoğlu:

Each period of Anthony Cragg’s more than 40-year career was shaped by new ideas and conceptual insights that he brought to his sculpture, and his productions attracted the curiosity and interest of every generation. While contemporary art was searching for new forms of expression through interdisciplinary transformations, Cragg combined the inherent aspects of sculpture – such as mass, negative space, material, and scale – with ideas and concepts that were current at the time. He established his own distinctive world of images and forms, which, by making reference to sculpture’s historical past, extended from existing ready-made objects to sculptures with unique three-dimensional volume.

About Anthony Cragg

Anthony Cragg, whose works are found in leading museum and institution collections around the world,was born in 1949 in Liverpool, where his father was an engineer in the aircraft industry. Starting in 1966, the artist worked for two years as a lab technician in the National Rubber Producers Research Association and was thus introduced to science before attending art school. To this day, Cragg’s studio contains publications on paleontology and biochemistry rather than books about art. He believes that sculpture and science and the worlds of physics and metaphysics complement one another and encourage thinking.

After working as a lab technician, he enrolled in a foundation course at Gloucester College of Art and Design in Cheltenham, then a three-year undergraduate course at Wimbledon School of Art, where he was a student from 1969 to1973.

In 1973, Anthony Cragg was admitted to the postgraduate program in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. In his sculptural works at school, he used “everyday” materials that he came across in building sites, as well as materials he collected while riding solo around London on his tandem bike. According to the artist, his student years were spent searching for content that challenged the minimalist tendencies dominating the world of sculpture in the 1970s. This would lead him to develop an approach that focuses on form. In 1977, Cragg moved to Germany, where he still lives today, to start a part-time teaching job at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. Soon after, he was appointed to a full-time position, accepting the post of professor from 1988 to 2001. Between 2001 and 2006, Cragg worked at the Berlin University of the Arts, then returned to Düsseldorf in 2006, where he served as the academy’s president from 2009 to 2013. The artist has received numerous honorary titles and memberships from esteemed institutions around the world and had his work exhibited in countless cities since the 1970s. In 1988, Anthony Cragg was awarded the Turner Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the UK, and that year also represented his country at the Venice Biennale. In 2007, he was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for Sculpture. Through the exhibitions he holds in diverse geographies, the artist opens up new horizons for sculpture.

Exhibition catalogue

Published bilingually in Turkish and English, the catalogue includes images of the works featured in the exhibition “Human Nature” alongside an essay by Levent Çalıkoğlu presenting the conceptual framework of the exhibition, as well as an interview of Anthony Cragg by writer Jon Wood and an essay on Cragg’s artistic practice authored by Demosthenes Davvetas, a poet, artist, and professor of philosophy of art in Paris (Sorbonne and IESA).

The exhibition catalogue, as well as a selection of products inspired by “Human Nature” are available at the Istanbul Modern Store.

Workshops for children and young people

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Istanbul Modern Education and Social Projects department is organizing art workshops for children and young people as part of educational programs designed for different age groups. Throughout the course of the exhibition, events and film programs will also be held in conjunction with the exhibition.

The exhibition “Human Nature” is on view in Istanbul Modern’s temporary exhibition hall between May 23 – November 11, 2018.