press release

The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao is pleased to present the first retrospective in Spain of British/American sculptor William Tucker (*1935 in Cairo, lives in Williamsburg, MA), curated by Prof. Kosme de Barañano.

In the 1970s, Tucker belonged to the highly influential circle of English sculptors that included Philip King and Tim Scott, who were presented as the ‘New Generation’ in the eponymous exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1965. This group had a decisive impact on the development of abstract sculpture and was largely instrumental in broadening the concept of sculpture. In 1966, William Tucker was invited to take part in the seminal exhibition Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in New York, a decisive moment in American Minimal Art. During this period he also made a name for himself as a theoretician, critic and curator. In 1974, Tucker published The Language of Sculpture as well as reviews and essays in Studio International, the British counterpart of ARTFORUM. In 1975, he organised The Condition of Sculpture show at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Tucker has staged one-man exhibitions at major venues like the Whitechapel Gallery (1965), the Tate Gallery (1971 and 1987), the Serpentine Gallery (1973), the Arts Council of Great Britain (1973) and Tate Liverpool (2001). William Tucker was awarded several prestigious prizes throughout his career, amongst them in 2009 the Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture and in 2010 the International Sculpture Lifetime Achievement award.

The exhibition at Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao includes 48 sculptures: 24 large and medium-sized works and 24 models for his large-scale outdoor pieces. Also on display are 57 large figurative drawings produced over the last thirty years of Tucker's career, which give a useful insight into how he produces his works. One of Tucker's works is already in the centre of Bilbao: the 3 metre-high bronze sculpture entitled Maia (1997), located in the Paseo de Abandoibarra.

Despite the apparent abstraction, Tucker addresses classical themes of mythology and the history of art, tackling anything from human or animal heads to torsos and feet; he expresses a vision that emphasizes the energy waiting to be unleashed in the materials of sculpture, in an on-going sequence touched on by others in the 20th century before him, in particular sculptors like Auguste Rodin (Paris, 1840-Meudon, 1917) and Medardo Rosso (Turin, 1858-Milan, 1928).

William Tucker’s sculptures open up a wide field of potential associations, which gives them their insistent and unique physical corporeality. They have a presence that puts our own body in relation to them and thus heightens our awareness of it.

“Tucker’s sculpture asks fundamental questions as to what sculpture is and what it can be.” (Joy Sleeman, The Sculpture of William Tucker, Lund Humphries, The Henry Moore Foundation, 2007)

Sculptures by William Tucker are in many institutional collections, including the Tate Gallery in London, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Metropolitan Museum New York, the Nasher Sculpture Center Dallas and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.