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Tony Cragg New Principal at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie
Isa Genzken at the Whitechapel Gallery
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Tony Cragg Becomes New Principal at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie

It's official: starting with the summer semester, Tony Cragg will take over Markus Lüpertz's position as principal of the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie. For the sculptor, who was born 1949 in Liverpool, the renowned academy is familiar territory. He was a professor here from 1988 to 2001; today, he is one of the school's prorectors. Cragg's appointment is awaited with calm anticipation. In contrast, Lüpertz has met with increasing criticism because he lent far too little priority to expanding new media at the school, favoring classical disciplines such as painting instead. The fact that Christopher Williams is the only teacher in the area of photo and video recently led Dusseldorf-based photographers like Andreas Gursky to voice harsh public criticism of Lüpertz. How things will continue under the directorship of Cragg, however, is still a matter of speculation.

In his work, at least, the Turner Prize winner and multiple documenta participant resists committing to any single style or material. Along with bronze, stone, and plaster, he works with modern plastics like Fiberglas and Kevlar. In the late seventies, Cragg became internationally known with his assemblages of civilizational garbage. Since the nineties he has made biomorphic objects that rest on the floor. The British artist has closely investigated scientific discoveries over the years, as with his monumental sculpture Secretions (1998) from the Deutsche Bank Collection. The work has found a prominent place in the foyer of Winchester House, the bank's London headquarters. Thousands of white plastic playing dice are arranged together like molecules to create organic forms. Their shimmering surfaces make them appear to be in a constant state of transformation.

It remains to be seen whether and how the tradition-steeped school will change. He is, in any case, taking on a heavy responsibility. Peter Doig, Albert Oehlen, Tal R., Georg Herold, Rita McBride, Rosemarie Trockel, Hubert Kiecol: the reputation of the Dusseldorf Academy is as imposing as its list of professors. Despite the criticism, it is considered to be one of Germany's most prestigious art schools, along with the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg and the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main.

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