10 Things to Know About... Antony Gormley
Fascinated by the connection between beings, Antony Gormley has been exploring the individual and the universal since the 1980s. He uses sculpture – the most materialist art form – to address the spiritual and the imperceptible. But how did Antony Gormley’s influences develop? Artsper offers you to discover 10 things to know about this captivating artist!
1. Introspective since childhood
At his TED talk in 2012, Gormley explained the origins of his introspection-based work. As a child, his mother would send him to his bedroom for an after-lunch enforced rest. In that very small room, he would lie there still, which was far from satisfying his cravings for adventure and tree houses. But as time went by, he realized that this space seemed bigger and bigger… until it became infinite. Discovering this inordinate richness of introspection at a young age, Gormley began to love these moments of enforced rest.
2. The author of many great British sculptures
The sculpture Angel of the North is certainly Antony Gormley‘s most famous work. It is also one of the largest on the British territory. Located in Gateshead in England, it is 54 meters long and 20 meters high. It’s emblematic by its size and its meaning, since it pays tribute to the miners who worked under the same hill.
3. Antony Gormley, an artist of paradoxes
Working with the most concrete medium of art – sculpture – Gromley tries to transcribe, in a new way, the impalpable. And this powerful paradox is omnipresent in his work. The individual and the collective, the concrete and the immaterial, the subjective and the universal, the external and the internal. This theme deals in particular with the subjective environment, with this withdrawal into oneself which we all experience individually. But above all, it is the universal value of this personal experience that is revealed on a collective scale. In this way, he has revolutionized this art form by reversing the logic of classical sculpture. He does not seek to represent the appearance at best, but to immortalize the substance within.
4. He uses a variety of materials
An artist of pluralities, Gormley multiplies themes and materials. He uses steel in Firmament, stone in Planets and iron in Mass and Empathy. His work Angel of the North is composed of concrete, copper and steel. Then, in Breathing Room and Spacetime, he explores the effect of light and air. All told, Antony Gormley’s techniques are impressive and admirable.
5. Antony Gormley’s influences: between anthropology and travel
Passionate about the history of societies, Gormley graduated from Trinity College Cambridge with a degree in anthropology, archaeology and art history. After graduation, he spent three years in India. Antony Gormley’s various influences make him something of an artist-anthropologist. Seeking to understand the interactions between body and society, he invites us to open up, to deep dive into introspection.
6. A regular recipient of prizes and awards
Gormley is a highly recognized artist. In 1994, he won the renowned Turner Prize for his installation Testing a World View. In 1999, he received the South Bank Prize for Visual Art. Then, he was awarded the Bernhard Heiliger Award for sculpture in 2007.
7. Antony Gormley is knighted
Antony Gormley is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, the Royal Architectural Institute of Great Britain and Jesus College, Cambridge. In 2003, he also became a member of the Royal Academy. And as if that wasn’t enough, in 2014 he was ennobled a Knight Bachelor, a great honor in British society!
8. An artist committed to ecology
Antony Gormley is an artist very committed to ecology. His work Connection is an alarm bell facing climate change. We can see a humanoid figure, which spreads its arms in front of a glowing background. To transmit the message to a lot of people, this work was the subject of a collaboration with the Guardian. Four years later, he denounces the taboo of CO2 emissions in the art world. Gormley’s entire body of work is punctuated with ecological values.
9. Antony Gormley has created a permanent and evolving installation
In 1997, Gormley began his surprising and intriguing work Another Place. Located on the mouth of the River Mersey at Liverpool Bay, this installation presents various human-sized bodies arranged on the beach and offshore. In 2005, the artist added additional statutes, so that the shore and the sea accommodate a hundred of them. Evolutive yet permanent, this work is accessible to all and at any time.
10. A place in the museum and on the street
While he exhibits in the world’s most prestigious galleries, Antony Gormley also works in public spaces. In 1994, for example, he designed a small square in the city of Rennes, France. In England, he has carried out many public commissions, such as the Quantum Cloud and the Angel of the North.
The artist and the power of the present
Antony Gormley’s use of sculpture allows him to reexamine the medium in its entirety. Even more, he exploits the material essence of sculpture to break down the barriers of concreteness and representation. At the end of his TED talk, Gormley quotes John Cage: “We are not moving towards some kind of goal. We are at the goal, and it is changing with us. If art has any purpose, it is to open our eyes to that fact.” It’s a testimony of the present to contemplate!
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