Isaac Newton once said “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Ironically, this quote originated not from the legendary physicist, but from 12th century philosopher Bernard of Chartres. Greatness, you see, nearly always has a legacy, and following the thread of an idea or discovery inevitably leads back along a path littered with giants. William Tucker’s solo show at Buchmann Galerie offers up giants of the literal and figurative variety with work that stands at a truly unique point in the history of sculpture and literally towers over viewers in bronze.
Tucker’s sculptures occupy the liminal space between figurative realism and abstraction; a space heretofore ignored by artists eager to align themselves with a movement (the skeptical among us might say, purely for the sake of sales). Art historians and amateurs have been unable to ignore the dual traditions in contemporary sculptural history, the expressionists perched upon the back of Henry Moore and the conceptualists planted firmly atop Duchamp's steady shoulders.
However Tucker, a student of Moore and a seminal sculptor in his own right, has taken a different track. According to the artist himself: “any sculpture is a figure in a sense, if it reads a as a total, a unity.” And Tucker’s work does manage to swing abstraction back around to an engagement with the figure, successfully standing astride the shoulders of both Moore and Duchamp.
This BAPS reporter enjoying Tucker's work. Photo: Tarn Watkinson
The monolithic bronzes swarm with human curvatures and fleshy lumps, and the bulging behemoths are hunched and crouched as much as they hover and extend—with every second glance I see eyes, teeth, skulls and ribs that disappear upon further inspection, dissolving into the artful materiality of pure abstraction.
As I circled the work warily, second glass of wine in hand, I was approached by a dapper middle-aged protege of Tucker’s (who was also-glass-in-hand), and we began to discuss the work. I mentioned my interest in the repositioning of sculpture at the intersection between figuration and abstraction, and the prowling protege animatedly agreed. We spoke for a while of Tucker’s professorial legacy at Central Saint Martin’s (which, apparently, used to be a good deal more free, both monetarily and philosophically) and I was charmed to find such a charismatic sculptor still shilling for his old prof. Perhaps Tucker has paved the way for an entire new path forward for contemporary sculptors and become a giant himself. I myself would love to crawl up atop his stone cretans, curve my fists into a telescope and see what I can see.
- Buchmann Galerie – William Tucker "Sculpture" – March 15 – April 20, 2013 – Tuesday – Saturday: 11am-6pm [Price range of works: €80,000 – €150,000]
Article by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch