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Antony Gormley

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Antony Gormley OBE RA (born 30 August 1950) is an English sculptor. His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead commissioned in 1995 and erected in February 1998, and Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool.



Born the youngest of six children (four girls and two boys), Gormley grew up in Kent. He went to school at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire. He went on to complete a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology and History of Art at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1968 to 1971 before going to India and Sri Lanka to study Buddhism. Returning to London three years later in 1974, Gormley attended Central School of Art and Goldsmiths College, completing his studies with a postgraduate course in sculpture at the Slade School of Art, University College London between 1977 and 1979. His career was given early support by Nicholas Serota, a near-contemporary of Gormley's at Cambridge, who gave him a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1981.

Over the last three decades, Antony Gormley has revitalised the human image in sculpture through a radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation, using his own body as a subject, tool and material. Since 1990 he has expanded his concern with the human condition to explore the collective body and the relationship between self and other in large-scale installations like Allotment, Critical Mass, Another Place, Domain Field, Inside Australia and 'Blind Light.

The Angel of the North, Tyne & Wear, England by Antony Gormley


The Angel of the North near Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, England.

Gormley describes his work as "an attempt to materialise the place at the other side of appearance where we all live." Many of his works are based on moulds taken from his own body, or "the closest experience of matter that I will ever have and the only part of the material world that I live inside." His work attempts to treat the body not as a thing but a place and in making works that enclose the space of a particular body to identify a condition common to all human beings. The work is not symbolic but indexical: a trace of a real event of a real body in time.

Antony Gormley’s work has been exhibited extensively, with solo shows throughout the UK in venues such as the Whitechapel, Tate and the Hayward Gallery, the British Museum and White Cube, and internationally at museums including the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Germany. Blind Light, a major show of his work, was held at the Hayward Gallery from 17 May until 19 August 2007.

He has participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale and the Kassel Documenta 8. His Field has toured America, Europe and Asia. The 2006 Sydney Biennale featured Gormley's Asian Field, an installation of 180,000 small clay figurines crafted by 350 Chinese villagers in five days from 100 tons of red clay. Also in 2006, the burning of Gormley's 25-metre high The Waste Man formed the zenith of Penny Woolcock’s Margate Exodus, a re-telling of the Bible story of the enslavement and liberation of the Jewish people, commissioned by Artangel.

Angel of the North and, more recently, Quantum Cloud on the Thames in Greenwich are amongst the most celebrated examples of contemporary British sculpture. One of his key installations, Another Place, is to remain permanently on display at Crosby Beach, Merseyside.

Gormley has also made work for the stage. He collaborated with choreographer/dance artists Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and composer Nitin Sawhney on 'zero degrees', which premiered at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London in 2005 and then toured internationally. He designed the set and made life size mannequins of Khan and Larbi which they used in their performance. He worked again with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and monks from the Shaolin Temple, China, to make Sutra, which opened at Sadler's Wells in May 2008. Again he designed the set, which this time included a series of man-size boxes which were used in a variety of ways by the monks and Larbi in the performance.

Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994 and the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999 and was made an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997. In 2007 he was awarded the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Trinity College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge,[1] and has been a Royal Academician since 2003. He is a trustee of the British Museum and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

Major works

  • Field (and subsequent recreations).
  • Sound II (1986) in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral.
  • Iron: Man (1993) Victoria Square, Birmingham.
  • Another Place (1997) currently at Crosby Beach near Liverpool.
  • Quantum Cloud (1999) Greenwich, UK.
  • Angel of the North (1998)
  • Time Horizon, the Archaeological Park of Scolacium near Catanzaro in Calabria, Southern Italy [2]
  • Event Horizon along the South Bank of the Thames, London, UK.
  • Filter (2002) acquired by Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK in 2009.

Proposals not taken forward

  • Brick Man, a proposal for the Holbeck Triangle, a disused patch of land bounded by three railway embankments just outside Leeds City station, was to be a representation of the human male form, made in brickwork and standing over 30 metres high. The proposal, made in 1988, was not favoured by the city, which refused planning permission.
  • According to an interview with John-Paul Flintoff in the Sunday Times on 2 March 2008, Gormley proposed a 12-metre-high ejaculating man for the waterfront at Seattle. The figure was meant to give an 11-second ejaculation of sea water every five minutes. “I intended it as an ironic comment on the male figure in relation to the whole idea of a fountain, because everyone knows the fountain is a male fantasy of permanent ejaculation.” This was seen as inappropriate, and so was rejected.

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