Tony Long

Natalexos, 1987

Often weighing many tonnes, Long’s heavy steel sculptures are huge and yet at the same time extremely subtle. The well-travelled and widely educated artist created numerous works in public space. He always remained a ‘classic’ metal designer who cut, welded and bent his materials, so transforming them in this way. His at first glance seemingly cool constructions provide the scope for far-reaching associations, influenced among other things by the titles of the works. Natalexos, for example, can be read as the relic of an ancient culture, as well as a found object from the industrial age. The structure thus inspires a journey through different ages and cultures.


Ten metres long, two and a half metres wide and one and a half metres tall: Tony Long’s "Natalexos" steel structures cannot be overlooked, although in terms of their formal development they are rather subtle. Thus it is a perfect example of the gift of the artist (born in Massachusetts in 1942) to process massive material into almost floating pieces of art. The American, part-time Swiss, part-time Frenchman, part-time Russian, part-time German and part-time Styrian (since the seventies he also had a home in Styria) created numerous works in the public space between Marseille and Tiflis and, as (monumental) sculptor moves between cool construction and deep symbolism.


He has repeatedly surprised audiences with new contents in his steel sculptures, sometimes weighing many tons and employing the whole range of basic vocabulary stretching from circle to square to triangle. In this, the kinetic energy of the material contrasts with the titles of the work. Titles which give clear reference (such as “Virgin/Libra”, "Madonna", "God") are juxtaposed with ones escaping their meaning like in the case of "Natalexos". The passionate, polyglot and thoroughly educated traveller loved it to open up associative fields with his works and to invite the beholder to determine their own position in this realm of multifarious symbols. In this, Long always remained a “classical” metal designer, who cut, welded and bent his material, thereby transforming and transcending it.


"Natalexos" inspires to a journey through times and cultures. The work can be read as a relic of an archaic culture and, at the same time, as a find of archaeology of the industrial era. Odysseus meets the heroes of space age 2001? That happens to be the year in which Tony Long died.

Author: Walter Titz 
Plan & Overview: Position 12
Owner: [Universalmuseum Joanneum GmbH]
Biography: Tony Long 

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