Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anthony Gormley's Another Place

At tip for the hat goes to the very great Jude Mason for turning us onto this fantastic artist ... thanks!

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 seven children, Gormley grew up in a well off family in Hampstead. Gormley studied at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire. He also studied at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1968 to 1971 before going to India and Sri Lanka to study Buddhism from 1971 to 1974. From 1974 onwards, he attended various colleges in London, 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 who had been a near contemporary of Gormley's at Cambridge giving him a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1981.

Almost all of his work takes the human body as its subject, with his own body used in many works as the basis for metal casts.

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 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 won the Turner Prize in 1994 with Field for the British Isles. In The Guardian (8 September 2007) he was quoted as saying that he was "embarrassed and guilty to have won - it's like being a Holocaust survivor. In the moment of winning there is a sense the others have been diminished. I know artists who've been seriously knocked off their perches through disappointment."

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. The appropriation of others' works caused minor controversy, with some of the figurines being stolen in protest. Also in 2006, the burning of Gormley's 25-metre high "The Waste Man" formed the zenith of the Margate Exodus.

He is currently a trustee of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and (since April 2007) of the British Museum. He is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

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