William Tucker was born in Cairo in 1935 and came to England when his family returned in 1937. He studied history at Oxford University, 1955–58 and sculpture at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, 1959–60. Having moved to the USA in 1977, William Tucker continues to live and practise there today.
Tucker’s work has been recognised by various awards, including the Sculpture Center, New York award for Distinction in Sculpture, 1991; the Rodin– Moore Memorial Prize; Second Fujisankei Biennale, Japan, 1995; the annual award from the New York Studio School, 1999; the RA Summer Exhibition Sculpture Prize, 2009, and the International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement Award, 2010.
Tucker was awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship in 1961 and the Peter Stuyvesant Travel Bursary in 1965. He spent two years as Gregory Fellow at Leeds University Fine Arts Department, 1968–70 and represented Britain at the 1972 Venice Biennale.
Tucker is also a writer and in 1974 published The Language of Sculpture. Following publication of the book, he was invited to curate the exhibition The Condition of Sculpture at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1975, for which he wrote the catalogue essay. Both the book and the show proved to be landmarks in the development of a certain tradition of British sculpture.
William Tucker's early sculptures were constructed out of steel and wood and were assembled and altered into abstract configurations in largely geometric form. Such compositions were later cast in plaster and concrete as he became concerned with weight and gravity and the potential defiance of these states, which became an increasingly important point of resistance in his work. In the early eighties Tucker moved his studio to upstate New York and started to work in plaster on a scale directly related to the human figure. Cast in bronze, these sculptures were shown with earlier steel and wood constructions. “I see the role of contemporary sculpture,” Tucker wrote in 1998, “as preserving and protecting the source of mystery, of the unknown, in public life”. Tucker continues to work in plaster or bronze at a variety of scales and with progressively more reference to the human body, both in image and handling of the material.