Celebrated sculptor Richard Deacon was born in Bangor, Wales in 1949, spending part of his early childhood in Sri Lanka. For his degree at St Martin’s School of Art (1969-72) he concentrated on performance-based work before gaining an MA in Environmental Media at the Royal College of Art (1974-77). By the early 1980s his enigmatic, ambitious sculptures were gaining national and international recognition and since then his work has been exhibited extensively in numerous solo and group shows around the world. Significant public commissions of his work include, for example, Between the Eyes for the Yonge Square International Plaza in Toronto, Let’s not be Stupid at the University of Warwick and Building from the Inside, Voltaplatz, Krefeld and the cornice on Eric Parry’s new building in Piccadilly, London.
Describing himself as a ‘fabricator’ Deacon emphasises the construction of the finished object, often highlighting or exposing the way in which an object has been made. His appetite for experimenting with different materials is voracious, as if each sculpture were defined by contrast to its successor. As he explained in an interview in 2005, “Changing materials from one work to the next is a way of beginning again each time (and thus of finishing what had gone before)”. For Deacon the process of making is a two-way conversation between artist and material that transforms the workaday into something metaphorical.
Hugely influential, throughout his career, Deacon’s work has garnered impressive awards and honours, including the Turner Prize in 1987, the Robert Jakobsen Prize, Museum Wurth, Kunzelsau, Germany in 1995, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the Ministry of Culture, France in 1996, and in 1999 he was made a CBE for his significant contribution to the arts in Britain. He represented Wales at the Venice Biennale (2007) and has participated in the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012) and documenta 9 (1992). He has undertaken professorships at the London Institute, the Hochschule für Angewande Kunst, Vienna, the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris and is currently Professor at the reknowned Kunstakademie Dusseldorf. From 1992 to 1997 he served as a Tate Trustee. He recently had a retrospective at the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (2011), while Tate Britain exhibited a survey of his work from February-April 2014.