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Richard Deacon

Biography

Richard Deacon

1949

Richard Deacon was born in Bangor, Wales. His father was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and as such, his family moved every two years or so, depending on where his father was stationed. These many successive travels finally took them to Sri Lanka from 1955 to 1958. Deacon has vivid memories of 3rd century Buddhas sculpted directly into Polonnaruwa’s cliffs. As a child he was also intrigued by Iron Age forts and Dartmoor’s rocks in the Plymouth region.

1968

Deacon attended Somerset College of Art in Taunton where he studied under Ian Breakwell and Rose Finn Kelcey as well as conceptual artist John Hilliard.

1969-1972

Deacon was admitted to the renowned Saint Martins College of Art where he studied for 3 years. During his time there he developed a strong interest in performance. Stuff Box Object is thus an experimental piece which involved Deacon climbing into a box and bolting himself inside, a prisoner of its interior space. Afterwards he applied plaster and cement to the box’s exterior which he then removed using hammer and chisel, allowing him to subtly glide between the worlds of performance and sculpture, directly confronting the material. After completing his studies at Saint Martins he and several colleagues founded Manydeed with a desire to continue working together. They rented out a large loft which became a collective workshop.

1974-1977

Deacon studied at the prestigious royal College of Art (RCA) where he presented his first exhibition in 1976. Despite his diploma from Saint Martins, Deacon admitted he “still didn’t know what he wanted to do” at this point in his career. He did acknowledge that one of his objectives was to “make an ongoing commitment to material” on his application form for the RCA. At this time he met ceramic artist Jacqueline Poncelet whom he married in 1977. They had two children, Alexis (born in 1978) and Alice (born in 1982). 

1975

First show at RCA.

1977

Deacon wrote an essay on Poussin’s painting Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake. He settled in Brixton, setting up his workshop where he remains to this day. He begins teaching at the Central School of Art.

1978

Exhibits his work in the gallery-workshop in Brixton.

1979

The family moved to the United States for one year thanks to his wife’s study grant. They lived in New York for 6 months, then began to travel across the United States from East to West. This is when Deacon produced a series of large format drawings entitled It’s Orpheus when they’re singing inspired by his reading of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus.

1982

He began work on a series of sculptures called Art for Other People.

After 1983

Richard Deacon’s career takes off internationally, the result of numerous commissions for public spaces:

1983

For Those Who Have Ears (commissioned by the Welsh Sculpture Trust, the work later became part of the Tate Gallery collection in London)

1984

Like a Bird (commissioned by the Meyseyside Development Corporation for the International Garden Festival of Liverpool)

1985

Blind, Deaf And Dumb, commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery for an exhibition, the work then became part of the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller in Otterlo, Netherlands)

1989

Host (commissioned by the Equitable Plaza in Chicago)

1990

Once Upon A Time (commissioned by the Metropolitan District Council of Gateshead (Between The Eyes (commissioned by Yonge Square International Plaza of Toronto), Moor (a commission for “Four cities: New York for different places”, installed in Plymouth)

1991

Let’s Not Be Stupid (commissioned by the University of Warwick, Coventry), Nobody Here But Us (for the ASB Bank Centre, Auckland)

1992

Between Fact And Fiction for the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art, Villeneuve d’Ascq. This Is Not A Story, commissioned by the City of Waiblingen, Germany. Building from the inside, Krefeld, Germany.

1993

Zeitweise, Now and Then (commissioned by Vienna for Mexicoplatz)

1996

One Is Asleep, One Is Awake, Tokyo, International Forum

1999

No Stone Unturned, Liestat, Switzerland

1987

Meanwhile, Deacon was awarded the Turner Prize. Organized by the Tate Britain, this prestigious prize is awarded annually in December in  recognition of a contemporary British artist’s work.

1995

Deacon received the Robert Jakobsen Prize, from the Würth Museum, Kunzelsau, Germany.

1997

Named Knight of the Arts and Letters

1998

Elected as a member of the Royal Academy

2005

Becomes Doctor of Letters at the University of Leicester

2007

Deacon represented Wales at the Venice Biennale.

Artist Website: http://www.richarddeacon.net
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac : http://www.ropac.net/artists/richard-deacon/