Tucker was born in Cairo in 1935 and came to Britain in 1937. He studied history at Oxford University before studying sculpture at Central School of Art and Design then St Martin’s School of Art, London. In 1968 Tucker was appointed the Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at the University of Leeds and later taught in art schools throughout Britain, Canada and the USA. He relocated to the United States in 1978, becoming an American citizen in 1986.
Tucker’s first solo exhibition was held at the Rowan Gallery, London in 1963. His work has also been included in major international group exhibitions including New Generation: Interim, 1965 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. He represented Britain at the XXXVI Venice Biennale in 1972, fully establishing his status as an influential British sculpture and ensuring his reputation for the remainder of his life. Tucker also wrote extensively as an art critic and published his influential book The Language of Sculpture in 1974, before curating The Condition of Sculpture at the Hayward Gallery, London in 1975. His work was shown at the Tate Gallery, London in 1987, with a retrospective a year later at the Storm King Art Centre in New York. Recent exhibitions include a retrospective at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool in 2001.
Tucker’s early work marked a radical break from the legacy of Henry Moore, who had dominated British sculpture in the 1940’s and 1950’s. In the late 1950’s, Tucker began to construct abstract forms such as the kidney-shaped units forming Memphis from industrial materials such as metal, timber and fibreglass which were bolted or welded together and swathed in layers of brightly coloured paint. This highly coloured series of works matured in the mid 1960’s, coinciding with a similar period of production by both Phillip King and Anthony Caro, leading to all three being loosely branded the new ‘coloured sculptors’.
During the last twenty years however, Tucker has preferred to use more traditional methods of modelling in plaster and casting in bronze. Accompanying this change in practice was a move to a more figurative style, and experimentation with scale and mass. Although Tucker’s practice has changed radically, his commitment to the investigation of the nature of sculpture remains fervent. He now lives and works in New York State.
De la Moore la Hirst 60 de ani de sculptura Britanica (From Moore to Hirst: Sixty Years of British Sculpture), The British Council and the National Museum of Art, Bucharest 2004