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The Gods


William Tucker


University of Massachusetts, Boston, outside the Science Center  


University of Massachusetts, Boston, outside the Science Center
United States










Arts on the Point



The career of British sculptor William Tucker offers a lesson in the major concerns and developments of modern sculpture. Born in Egypt and raised in England, Tucker studied at St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, where he encountered some of the foremost sculptors of the modern period, including Anthony Caro, who was on the faculty at the time. Tucker’s early career coincided with the rise of what was to be termed Minimalism, a movement emphasizing linear, geometrical shapes and eschewing emotional expressionism. Minimalist artists often worked with industrial materials, such as steel and plywood, and coated their sculptures in polychrome paint to highlight their simplicity of form and straightforward object-hood. In 1966, Tucker participated in the Primary Structures show in New York, considered the most important exhibition of Minimalist sculpture.

From this perspective, then, The Gods seems to be the work of a different individual altogether. After moving to the US in the late 1970s, Tucker gradually began to shift away from hard edges and geometric forms. Works like The Gods have a more organic nature and are even vaguely figural—Ouranus, the middle sculpture, evokes a human foot, while the other two resemble a finger and an inverted horse’s hoof. Gone, too, are the mechanical techniques of Minimalist sculpture: The Gods began as a series of small clay models, shaped by hand. And while Tucker’s early work often featured empty space, these figures are extremely heavy. Curiously, Ouranos, the Greek god of the sky, and his two children are entirely earth-bound.

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