Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.
Gormley‘s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019); Delos, Greece (2019); Uffizi Gallery, Florence (2019); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2019); Long Museum, Shanghai (2017); National Portrait Gallery, London (2016); Forte di Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). Permanent public works include the ‘Angel of the North’ (Gateshead, England), ‘Another Place’ (Crosby Beach, England), ‘Inside Australia’ (Lake Ballard, Western Australia), ‘Exposure’ (Lelystad, The Netherlands) and ‘Chord’ (MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA).
Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003. Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950.
CLEARING, 2004 – 2020 . “I was trying to destroy the fixed coordinates of a room and make a space/time continuum (a line without end) that was both a thing and a drawing. The work consists of up to 7 kilometres of raw metal rod that arcs from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, creating a three-dimensional drawing in space. This installation acts as a kind of vector field, encouraging the viewer to move through its structure, and in so doing, disrupts the authority of a single-point perspective, necessitating, instead, a constant renegotiation of the visual field“.
HOST, 1991 – 2019 . “HOST was first made in the same year as FIELD (1991) and was first shown in the exhibition ‘Places with a Past’, inside the Old City Jail in Charleston, South Carolina. FIELD was in one collective prison room and HOST was in the one opposite. On that occasion, HOST was mud and sea water taken from Charleston harbour, pumped in through the open windows. There was a clear dialogue between the touched, fired and fixed clay of FIELD, and the uninscribed, unformed clay of HOST. HOST has always been about bringing the outside in, bringing nature into the frame of culture, bringing dirt into the domestic. In Germany in 1997, 5,000 litres of mud from inland Saxony and 5,000 litres of water from Kiel harbour were introduced into the contemporary exhibition wing of the Kiel Kunsthalle. Within the first 48 hours of installation, the mud went from black to orange: a result of the anaerobic ferrous oxide coming into contact with salt water, and the activation of methane-producing bacterial and biological processes. This infection of the museum with the elemental conditions of the ‘outside’ made raw material the object of contemplation; an experience which was not only visual, but olfactory and sensate – affected by the increased humidity in the space, the smell of methane and salt in the air, and the acoustic effect of the presence of water. The work was re-presented at Galleria Continua, Beijing in 2016, when HOST flooded the central spaces of the gallery to a depth of 23 centimetres. Approximately 95 cubic metres of red clay and sea water from the nearby Tianjin Coast was mixed at a ratio of 50:50. The experience of the work is not only visual, but sensate: the viewer is invited to stand at one of the three thresholds leading into the space and to sense the relationship between the built world and un-inscribed nature. HOST is a potent environment for proprioception, allowing art to become an instrument through which the viewer becomes the viewed. This is the elemental world, a primal soup brought within the frame of a museum as a changing painting that you can sense, as well as see. The point is to heal the division between inside and outside, and bring the elemental world into a cultural frame. Here is a materialised landscape not pictured, formulated or interpreted”.
EXPANSION FIELD, 2014 – 2015 . “Over the years, my obsession has been to try to explore the body as a place rather than simply as an object and to reconcile its space with space at large. I want to acknowledge that while we live within a built environment and we are the only animal to construct a habitat using Euclidean principles, the moment we close our eyes and become conscious of the darkness of the body, we are in an unbounded, ever extending space without dimension. This intimate zone of experience has the same unlimited properties as the sky at night. With this EXPANSION FIELD, the cosmological constant of an expanding universe is applied to the subjective space of the body. The work is comprised of 60 boxes that evoke the unstable place of the body as an architectural field: 60 cases for darkness, or night, each derived from the volumes of my body but translated into the geometry of architecture. Fabricated in Corten steel and hermetically welded, the sculptures are absolute displacements of space; volumes of night placed in light. They are made from up to thirty different body positions that have each been expanded as many as six times, and the resulting expansions are orientated in all directions. The incremental expansion of these body zones is random but they are placed on a clear grid, through which the body of the viewer is invited to wander. This is a reflective field in which subjective experience is catalysed by voided objects. The degree to which it encourages projection is the degree to which it encourages proprioception.