BRIT ARTIST, Antony Mark David Gormley’s revitalization of the human figure in sculptures hit the heights. It follows on from a previous exhibition “Another Place” Crosby Beach, Liverpool 2006. I first had the pleasure of meeting the artist when he gave an open discussion of his work at IMMA, The Irish Musuem Modern Art back in the early 90′s. Gormley was born to a German mother and Irish father and grew up in West Yorkshire UK. His exhibition at IMMA was a complete success capturing the public’s imagination, goodwill and support. Totally impressed, I went back many times to view the exhibition and like many I was certain Gormley would become a very big voice in the contemporary art world, but little did I know just how big! Many of the Brit Art Group were supported by Charles Saatchi co founder of the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. However, Antony Gormley was not one of them!
In one of his few public speeches (at the Turner Prize award ceremony held at the Tate in 1994 when he announced that Antony Gormley— a sculptor whose work Charles Saatchi did not collect— had won the £20,000 prize), he remarked:
I’m not sure what today’s young British artists are putting in their porridge in the mornings but it seems to be working. They’re providing the most striking new art being made anywhere in the universe, and it seems every museum, from Nebraska to Alaska, is ringing up trying to organise shows of their work. Now I don’t know, any more than you, what has made our young artists suddenly so supercharged, but I am certain that teachers like Michael Craig-Martin at Goldsmiths’ College have had a tremendous effect. [Applause.] Now Goldsmiths’, and in recent years the Royal College, and some other art schools, they have set a tone and a level of ambition that has stimulated not just their graduates, but young artists all over Britain who are producing work that is challenging, articulate and relevant. Now if sometimes that work appears tasteless and cynical and uncouth, I think it’s because sometimes we all are. [No applause greeted this admission.] I think that the Turner Prize has itself become an inspiration and a catalyst. It’s a cliché, but it is nevertheless true, that we all welcome the wider interest and debate in contemporary art that the Turner Prize generates. At the very least it gives four young artists every year the chance to exhibit their work here at the Tate.
The Turner Prize Award was inevitable and Gormley became a sensation world wide over night. However, he was well prepared to capitalise on his growing popularity and has rapidly moved on to much greater heights. Gormley’s work is significant in that it is Human and as a Human his art touches our soul.
He 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 an object 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.
Gormley’s most recent project installation is set high in the Austrian Alps Lech am Arlberg. The image shows one of a hundred cast iron figures scattered over a total area of 150 square kilometres. The figures are part of an art project, called Horizon Field, organised with the collaboration of the Kunsthaus Bregenz Museum. It will display for two years high in the mountains underneath Yves Klein Blue skies.
On the 14th of August 2011the BBC world news launched the first of a new series of art programmes on contemporary artists. In “Portrait of an Artist”, Razia Iqbal interviews the British sculptor Antony Gormley about his life and his work. It was an amazing interview as Razia gets up close and personal with the worlds greatest living contemporary sculptor. It is worth noting BBC replay program schedules and Podcast by BBC Journalist Bethany Bell
Antony Gormley is represented by the prestigious London based White Cube Gallery which has White Cube was set up by Jay Jopling in 1993 as a project room for contemporary art. Although it was one of the smallest exhibition spaces in Europe, it was arguably one of most influential commercial galleries of the past decade. Situated on the second floor of 44 Duke Street, St James’s, one of London’s most traditional art dealing streets, White Cube, Duke Street was, literally, a simple white cube, a room within a room, designed by the architect Claudio Silvestrin.
The central concern when establishing the programme was to create an intimate space in which an artist could present a single important work of art or a coherent body of work within a focused environment, an idea that in some way, stemmed from the memorable experience of Walter de Maria’s ‘Earth Room’ in New York. The programme was singular among commercial galleries in that an artist was invited to exhibit only once. Since its inception, the gallery mounted exhibitions of work by many leading international and British artists including Franz Ackermann, Miroslaw Balka, Chuck Close, Tracey Emin, Katharina Fritsch, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Ellsworth Kelly, Julie Mehretu, Doris Salcedo, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Luc Tuymans and Jeff Wall. White Cube, Duke Street closed in 2002.
The image above is a personal favourite as it was part of the IMMA exhibition I viewed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art back in the 90′s, Man how time flies! For further detailed research information I recommend a visit to Antony Gormley’s personal website where you will find a database with Eassy’s, Interviews, Text, Video, Audio, film, photography and much, much more. Personally I plan to take a trekk with the family and view the instillation in Austria, get close to heaven and enjoy the Gormley’s Human Horizon Field, underneath the Yves Klein Blue Shies!!!