Tony Cragg was born in Liverpool in 1949 and graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 1977 moving shortly thereafter to Germany where he has lived and worked since.
As a young artist Cragg became known for his sculptures that utilised found materials and simple making techniques such as stacking, splitting and crushing. Discarded construction and household materials became the basis of his major early works. At a time when minimalism and conceptualism were ascendant, Cragg began using mundane materials, which were tested to new limits.
By the late 1970s he had begun to collect discarded plastic objects, arranging them into colour categories, which were later laid out to portray forms recognisable from everyday life. Later works demonstrate a shift of interest to surface quality and its manipulation, and a play with unlikely juxtapositions of materials. Results vary from the delicate to the grotesque, in materials as diverse as bronze, steels, plastic, wood and plaster.
Cragg was first nominated for the Turner Prize in 1984 for his contribution to the Hayward Annual and then won the prize in 1988 for his exhibition as the British representative at the Venice Biennale. Cragg was awarded the Praemium Imperial in 2007. He is widely recognised as one of the most important sculptors of his generation and is represented in major collections both public and private around the world.