The human body offers infinite scope for exploring and reflecting on the one thing we may know best of all. British artist Antony Gormley (1950–) creates his sculptures out of a deep fascination with the human form and its relationship with the world around it.
Human as the baseline
Using his own body as a template, Gormley casts figures out of a range of materials, including metal and plaster, taking them as the starting point for his works. Gormley uses this medium to reflect on humankind’s place in the world, how we inhabit the space around us, and how we relate to it. Man’s spatial presence is a key preoccupation in Gormley’s work, and his explorations include arranging human forms in unusual positions or settings, or distorting the form he took as his starting point. He also engages the viewer by disrupting their own perception of their spatial presence and its effect on the art they observe. Another key focus point concerns man’s place in nature – outside the gallery space. Placing human forms in natural settings reveals how nature itself manipulates, erodes, or changes the form with the passage of time.
Division about the art pieces
Gormley’s installations have sometimes been the cause for some controversy. In particular, Gormley’s Another Place (1997) – a work which involved 100 metal statues cast on the basis of Gormley’s own body being placed along Crosby Beach near Liverpool – attracted a great deal of criticism from local water sports enthusiasts, the Coast Guard, and environmentalists who believed that the figures’ presence was a nuisance or even danger to visitors. Gormley’s response to this was a comment on Britain’s risk-averse culture, as he believed that many visitors enjoyed the unique works of art. In 2007, the statues were finally granted permanent residence along Liverpool Beach. The sculptures still line Crosby beach today, and Gormley has stated that he is particularly pleased with the barnacles that now grow on many of them
Works by Antony Gormley are exhibited here: