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From Line to Mass: A Conversation with William Tucker

by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo

William Tucker had already established a significant career as a sculptor in England when he moved to the United States in 1978. He was included in the seminal “New Generation” exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1964 and represented Britain at the 36th Venice Biennale in 1972. His work continues to be shown on both sides of the Atlantic, with exhibitions at the Tate Gallery, Storm King Art Center, the Art Museum at Florida International University, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, among many others.

His sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s appear radically different from those made since the mid-1980s, although in reality the evolution is much more considered. The early sculptures were made of steel and wood and based on abstract, geometric shapes surrounding large areas of negative space. But by the mid-1980s Tucker moved from framing space to filling it with mass and volume. Giving in to the tactile pleasure of handling material, he returned to modeling, something he had not done since his early days as a student. The resulting sculptures in plaster, clay, and bronze hover on the edge of abstraction, sometimes referencing human or animal forms, with energy emanating from within the mass of the sculpture. A catalogue raisonné of Tucker’s sculpture, The Sculpture of William Tucker by Joy Sleeman, commissioned by the Henry Moore Institute, will soon be published by Lund Humphries. Tucker’s horse head sculptures and drawings are the subject of the exhibition “William Tucker: Horses” at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, September 1, 2006–January 7, 2007.


Chinese Horse, 2003. Bronze, 92 x 52 x 100 in.

 

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