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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Richard Deacon

b. 1949, United Kingdom

Richard Deacon is one of Britain's foremost abstract sculptors. Born in 1949 in Bangor, Wales, Deacon lived in Sri Lanka for a time when he was young and later studied at Saint Martin's School of Art, Royal College of Art and Chelsea School of Art in London. While a student, he made performance-based work. However, he soon felt compelled to parse the relationship between the metaphysical and literal through sculptural forms. Deacon is often associated with New British Sculpture, a term that refers to a disparate group of young sculptors exhibiting in London in the early 1980s—such as Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Alison Wilding—who were loosely grouped together for their use of traditional materials, assemblages of urban matter and embracing of kitsch. Deacon had his first solo show in 1978 and gained international prominence in the early 1980s. By 1987, he was the fourth winner of the esteemed Turner Prize.

Deacon draws inspiration for his freestanding sculptures from the curiosities of everyday life. Inside his south London studio is an extensive collection of objects that the artist finds interesting, ranging from rope and childhood toys from Sri Lanka to rocks, crystals and physics books, and a wide array of toy animals organised into categories: farm or domestic, and wild. The equally motley materials in Deacon's works include glass, laminated wood, leather, cloth and ceramics. In fact, he habitually changes materials in order to challenge himself, resulting in a highly varied production over the past four decades. Responding to such range in an essay written for the catalogue Richard Deacon: On The Other Side, writer Dieter Schwarz stated that 'Deacon's sculptures can be recognised . . . by the fact that they are not immediately recognisable.' His more lyrical sculptures often bear winding organic lines—as seen in For Those Who Have Ears #2 (1983), Struck Dumb (1988) and After (1998)—while others like the ceramic and steel Fold (2012) and metal Two by Two (2010) are geometric and rigid in form. Yet they almost always bear proof of their highly engineered construction; Deacon regularly refers to himself as a fabricator rather than a sculptor, and emphasises his work's built qualities by leaving visible evidence such as screws and fittings on the works' surfaces.

Accompanying sculptures that range in size from the domestic to enormous public monuments, the 'highly associative' titles of Deacon's works often stem from his longstanding interest in poetic language. For example, the thoughtfully titled series 'Art For Other People', initiated in 1982, consists of over 50 bizarre and mostly small-scale sculptures made in different materials including clay, glass and net. Stemming from the artist's interest in the idea that art should be owned and enjoyed by anyone, the series was, as Deacon says, 'intended to be non-contextually determined, so that you could take them anywhere [and] they could function anywhere'. Similarly, the series of drawings 'It's Orpheus When There's Singing' from the late 1970s was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus and revealed Deacon's early interest in abstract curves.

Deacon is also famous for testing the limits and possibilities of his ordinary materials. After (1998) is a looping, tubular, snake-like wooden sculpture that seems to defy its own rigidity, while large-scale sculptures such as Restless (2005), Out of Order (2003) and Slippery When Wet (2004) are made of ash wood that Deacon and his long-term collaborator and fellow artist Matthew Perry steamed for three hours until bendable into curlicues and spirals. The partnership between Perry and Deacon has been a particularly meaningful one, and throughout his career, Deacon has acknowledged the many other hands that help create his work, from steel fabricators to Glasgow shipbuilders, saying that as much as 75% of his output could be considered collaboration. 'Essentially,' he has said, 'I realised it really doesn't matter who actually puts the screw in.'

In 2007, Deacon represented Wales at the Venice Biennale alongside Merlin James and Heather and Ivan Morison in an exhibition titled And So It Goes, held in an old brewery. Deacon responded to the ramshackle architecture of the space by producing several site-specific, wall-mounted works made of wood, ceramics and steel. In 2014, a major exhibition at Tate Britain surveyed Deacon's career; about 40 works illustrating 40 years of Deacon's output were on view. In the same year, a collection of Deacon's texts written between 1970 and 2012 on art, television, film and public projects were published in the book Richard Deacon: So, And, If, But: Writings 1970–2012.

Richard Deacon lives in London and divides his time between Paris, London and Cologne.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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A Different Time by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconA Different Time, 2017 Varnished mild steel with colour tint
124 x 120 x 80 cm
Lisson Gallery
Infinity #35 by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconInfinity #35, 2008 Stainless steel
121 x 133.5 x 2.5 cm
Lisson Gallery
Shiver My Timbers 17 by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconShiver My Timbers 17, 2016 Wood
103 x 23 x 23 cm
Lisson Gallery
Shiver My Timbers 15 by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconShiver My Timbers 15, 2016 Wood and stainless steel
43.3 x 28.5 x 19 cm
Lisson Gallery
Bletchley by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconBletchley, 2017 Inkjet print dry-mounted onto aluminium
60 x 79.1 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Home & Away #7 by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconHome & Away #7, 2018 Maple with birch ply top, 2 inkjet prints dry-mounted onto 2 mm Dibond, maple frames
88.6 x 95.9 x 95.9 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Flat 35 by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconFlat 35, 2018 Table, glazed ceramic
Marian Goodman Gallery
Iron by Richard Deacon contemporary artwork Richard DeaconIron, 2012 Wood and epoxy with iron powder
84 x 150 x 77 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Richard Deacon, House and Garden at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Closed
9 January–16 February 2019 Richard Deacon House and Garden Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, The Matter in Harmony at Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin
Closed
14 July–15 September 2018 Group Exhibition The Matter in Harmony Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin

Represented By

In Related Press

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Richard Deacon Related Press Richard Deacon Aesthetica : 11 June 2018

Known for creating open structures of various sizes, Richard Deacon (b. 1949) is interested in communicating through a diverse range of materials. A leading British sculptor, Deacon won the Turner Prize in 1987. His work was on display at Tate Britain in a large chronological survey featuring around 40 individual pieces from the artist's long...

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Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios Related Press Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović lead major new exhibition Everything At Once at Store Studios The Vinyl Factory : 8 September 2017

This October, Store Studios will host Everything At Once, an extensive off-site exhibition featuring 24 artists currently shown at Lisson Gallery in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

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Richard Deacon embraces failure in Antwerp with stellar results Related Press Richard Deacon embraces failure in Antwerp with stellar results Wallpaper* : 26 May 2017

Richard Deacon's first outdoor sculpture show, which opens this weekend in Antwerp, is long overdue. It's been 30 years since the artist, one of the leading British sculptors of his generation, won the Turner Prize. But the circumstances of this show are somewhat novel, since it has its origins in a bold admission of failure.

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Richard Deacon embraces failure in Antwerp with stellar results Related Press Richard Deacon embraces failure in Antwerp with stellar results Wallpaper* : 26 May 2017

Richard Deacon's first outdoor sculpture show, which opens this weekend in Antwerp, is long overdue. It's been 30 years since the artist, one of the leading British sculptors of his generation, won the Turner Prize. But the circumstances of this show are somewhat novel, since it has its origins in a bold admission of failure.In 1993 the Middelheim...

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