Tucker’s innovative early sculpture presented abstract forms in painted steel or fiberglass and placed directly on the ground. Typically his works of the 1960s consist of repeated geometric elements assembled into abstract configurations, with colour used to articulate outline and volume.
In 1966 Tucker’s Meru series was included in the seminal exhibition Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in New York and in 1972 Tucker represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. His highly successful book The Language of Sculpture was first published in 1974 and evolved from a series of lectures he gave whilst he was Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at the University of Leeds (1968-70).
Moving to New York in 1978, Tucker established his reputation with a series of sculptures directly modelled in plaster and cast into bronze, at first abstract like the steel forms from which they had developed, but increasingly suggestive of the human figure in their massive presence. He has found a unique balance between the figurative and the abstract, with truly powerful results. The way these sculptures stand or rest on the ground, and the way they address the onlooker, the ambiguity of their reference to the human figure brings the possibility of a new kind of figuration in sculpture in which the image emerges from both an inner perception of the body and an outer perception of volume and surface. These works appeal to both touch and sight, suggesting at once part of the body and the whole body, but resisting conclusive definition.