A large wall installation by British sculptor Tony Cragg will be on view in The Brooklyn Museum’s Grand Lobby from March 5 to April 14, 1986. Entitled Menschenmenge, German for “human quantity” or “crowd,” the work portrays a group of figures made of vividly colored plastic shards found by the artist. The installation will stretch the sixty-foot width of the lobby’s main wall.
Cragg, who was born in Liverpool in 1949 and graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 1977, now lives in Wuppertal, West Germany. He is one of several British sculptors who have received international recognition in the 1980s for sculpture made with discarded materials. Applying a quirky intelligence to the reorganization of the products of industrial society, these artists achieve eccentric and intriguing sculptural forms.
In Menschenmenge, the plastic shards form a lively abstract pattern as well as portraying over two dozen different figures. Rather than anonymous shapes in a crowd, these figures are individuals distinguished by differences in size and silhouette. Viewers entering the lobby will become emotionally involved with the work as they face a wall of people solemnly conforming to a uniform line. Although the physicality of the shards establishes a sculptural quality for the installation, the perception of the pieces is nevertheless determined by a pictorial boundary. Cragg employs such contradictions--including the plastic functioning as pigment would in a painting--to engage the viewer’s thoughts as well as their perceptual processes.
The Brooklyn Museum’s installation of Menschenmenge, which was first exhibited in Cologne, West Germany, in 1984, will be the first of three exhibitions of Cragg’s art in the United States this year. His work will also be on view at the Marion Goodman Gallery in New York and at University Art Museum in Berkeley, California. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1986, 016.