The show includes three recreated works that had been destroyed in the 60’s, and a recently discovered work believed to have been lost for nearly four decades. For an artist whose early and late work could be perceived as two distinct careers, this exhibition reveals the themes that run throughout.
Born in 1935, William Tucker studied History at Oxford while also attending the Ruskin School of Art, before moving on to sculpture at the Central School of Art and Design, and St. Martin’s School of Art in London. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1972, and authored one of the most distinguished sculpture publications The Language of Sculpture in 1974. Tucker has written and taught extensively on the subject of sculpture, and now in his eighties, this exhibition ties together the vast range of his abstract work, with rare and early prints and drawings on display for the first time.
Fragmentation and mythology are major themes in Tucker’s process. His early 60’s work emerged with a movement in the UK that was departing from the long-favoured,
traditionally gurative bronzes on pedestals. Cheaper materials such as breglass and steel meant that sculptors could better experiment with size and scale and encouraged an emergence of public sculpture projects. Along with others such as Anthony Caro and Phillip King, whom Tucker met at St. Martin’s, these artists brought sculpture o the plinth, directly placing these geometric, semi-industrial assemblages on the ground, with playful symmetry resonant of architecture, to an overall nish of linear simplicity. Through these unconventional, constructed materials and forms, Tucker was interested in exploring the visceral response evoked by sculpture and how it related to the gure. He explored an ambiguity of form which continued throughout his later work, remarking that ‘the way they relate to the body and your position continually keeps you guessing as to what you’re looking at.’
In this exhibition, the series Subject and Shadow (1962-2017) is the result of half a century of trying to nd the right visual solution. Originally made in 1962 and destroyed because Tucker could not resolve the association of the two parts, the solution came to him last year. Collaborating with the digital department at the foundry Pangolin Editions Tucker was inspired and excited to remake works that he had enjoyed at the time but felt had not reached their full potential.
The exhibition also brings the opportunity to rediscover his works such as the series Beulah X (1971-3) and Cat’s Cradle (1971), the latter which has not been seen since the 1972 RA show British Sculptors curated by Bryan Kneale RA. After curating The Condition of Sculpture at the Hayward Gallery in 1975, Tucker began to have doubts about minimal sculpture, and he emigrated to the US where his work transitioned to the rougher, more malleable e ects of modelled plaster which he then cast in bronze. Alongside powerful largescale drawings and smaller more intimate maquettes, Tucker established a reputation for his impressive forms, achieving various awards in New York and receiving the International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. This exhibition brings coherence to these transformative decades of Tucker’s ambiguous gurative sculpture.