Antony Gormley

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Antony Gormley
Fly-Angel crop.jpg
Born Antony Mark David Gormley
(1950-08-30) 30 August 1950 (age 69)
London, England[1]
Education Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Saint Martin's School of Art, Goldsmiths
Known for Sculpture
Spouse(s) Vicken Parsons

Sir Antony Mark David Gormley, OBE (born 30 August 1950[1]) is a British sculptor.[1] His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England, commissioned in 1994 and erected in February 1998, Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site installation which premiered in London in 2007, around Madison Square in New York City, in 2010, in São Paulo, in 2012, and in Hong Kong in 2015-16.

Early life

The youngest of seven children born to a German mother and an Irish father,[1] Gormley has stated that his parents chose his initials, "AMDG" to have the inference Ad maiorem Dei gloriam - "to the greater glory of God".[2] Gormley grew up in a Roman Catholic[3] family living in Hampstead Garden Suburb.[1] He attended Ampleforth College a Benedictine boarding school in Yorkshire,[1] before reading archaeology, anthropology and the history of art at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1968 to 1971.[1] He travelled to India and Sri Lanka to learn more about Buddhism between 1971 and 1974.[1] After attending Saint Martin's School of Art and Goldsmiths in London from 1974, he completed his studies with a postgraduate course in sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London, between 1977 and 1979.

While at the Slade, he met Vicken Parsons, who was to become his assistant and, in 1980, his wife, as well as a successful artist in her own right.[2][4] Gormley said of her:[2]

For the first 15 years she was my primary assistant. She did all of the body moulding... I think there are a lot of myths that art is made by, usually, lone men... I just feel so lucky and so blessed really, that I have such a strong supporter, and lover, and fellow artist.

The couple have three children, a daughter and two sons.[5][6]


Pair of figures separated by plate glass, Regent's Place, London

Gormley's career began with a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1981. Almost all 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."[7] 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."[7] 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.

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.[8] The appropriation of others' works caused minor controversy and some of the figurines were stolen in protest.[citation needed] Also in 2006, the burning of Gormley's 25-metre high The Waste Man formed the zenith of the Margate Exodus.[citation needed]

In 2007, Gormley's Event Horizon, consisting of 31 life-size and anatomically correct casts of his body, four in cast iron and 27 in fiberglass, was installed on top of prominent buildings along London's South Bank, and installed in locations around New York City's Madison Square in 2010. Gormley said of the New York site that "Within the condensed environment of Manhattan's topography, the level of tension between the palpable, the perceivable and the imaginable is heightened because of the density and scale of the buildings" and that in this context, the project should "activate the skyline in order to encourage people to look around. In this process of looking and finding, or looking and seeking, one perhaps re-assess one's own position in the world and becomes aware of one's status of embedment."[9] Critic Howard Halle said that "Using distance and attendant shifts of scale within the very fabric of the city, [Event Horizon] creates a metaphor for urban life and all the contradictory associations – alienation, ambition, anonymity, fame – it entails."[9]

In July 2009, Gormley presented One & Other, a Fourth Plinth commission, an invitation for members of the public, chosen by lot, to spend one hour on the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square in London.[10] This "living art" happening initially attracted much media attention. It even became a topic of discussion on the long-running BBC radio drama series The Archers, where Gormley made an appearance as himself.[11]

In 2012, Gormley began making sculptures that could be termed as "digital-cubism".[12] Through solid steel cubes the human form is rendered into an array of different postures and poses, boldly standing in a white gallery space.

In March 2014 Gormley appeared in the BBC Four series What Do Artists Do All Day? in an episode which followed him and his team in their Kings Cross studio, preparing a new work – a group of 60 enormous steel figures – called Expansion Field. The work was shown at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern.[13][14]

In May 2015 five life-sized sculptures, Land, were placed near the centre and at four compass points of the UK in a commission by the Landmark Trust to celebrate its 50th anniversary. They are at Lowsonford (Warwickshire), Lundy (Bristol Channel), Saddell Bay (Scotland), the Martello Tower (Aldeburgh, Suffolk), and Clavell Tower (Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset).[15][16] The Dorset sculpture was knocked over into Kimmeridge Bay by a storm in September 2015.[17]

In September 2015, Gormley had his first sculpture installed in New Zealand. Stay are identical cast iron human form sculptures, with the first installed in the Avon River in Christchurch's central city, and the other sculpture to be installed in the nearby Arts Centre in early 2016.[18]


Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994 with Field for the British Isles. He was quoted as saying that he was "embarrassed and guilty to have won...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."[19]

Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003, and was a Trustee of the British Museum from 2007-2015. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Institute of British Architects, honorary doctor of the universities of Teesside, Liverpool, University College London, and Cambridge, and a fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. In October 2010, he and 100 other leading artists signed an open letter to the Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt protesting against cutbacks in the arts.[20]

On 13 March 2011, Gormley was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance for the set design for Babel (Words) at Sadler's Wells in collaboration with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet.[21] He was the recipient of the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and is the 2013 Praemium Imperiale laureate for sculpture. Gormley was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to the arts.[22]

Art market

Gormley's auction record is £3,401,250 for a maquette of the Angel of the North, set at Christie's, London, on 14 October 2011.[23]

Major works

External video
London National Theatre with sculpture.jpg
Antony Gormley – The Art Fund on YouTube, ArtFund UK

Gormley's website includes images of nearly all of his works up to 2012. The most notable include:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Wroe, Nicholas; "Leader of the pack", 25 June 2005 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Antony Gormley: Being Human". Imagine. Autumn 2015. BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Interview with Antony Gormley". Retrieved 1 February 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Phillips, Sarah (6 February 2012). "How we made: Vicken Parsons and Antony Gormley on Bed". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Never again, says Antony Gormley's wife after they create first joint artwork". London Evening Standard. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Jones, Alice (8 May 2015). "Sir Antony Gormley interview: 'I don't have any choice over this: it's what I was born to do'". The Independent. Retrieved 9 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Antony Gormley: Making Space, Beeban Kidron documentary, 2007, shown on Channel 4 UK, November 2009;
  8. "Asian Field Tour 2003–2004". Antony Gormley.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Event Horizon: Mad. Sq. Art.: Antony Gormley Madison Square installation guide
  10. 10.0 10.1 "One & Other — official website" (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  11. Nikkhah, Roya; "Antony Gormley to star in The Archers", 28 June 2009 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  12. "Bodyspace in New York at The Sean Kelly Gallery". TimeOut. 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2015-12-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Four – Watch Live". BBC. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2014-03-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 25 Mar 2014 (2009-06-26). "Today's TV highlights". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-03-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Land – An art installation for all to mark Landmark's 50th year". Landmark Trust. Retrieved 8 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Sir Antony Gormley sculptures placed at five UK beauty spots". BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Sir Antony Gormley Kimmeridge Bay statue topples into sea". BBC. Retrieved 22 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Campbell, Georgina (30 September 2015). "First Gormley statue put in place". The Press. p. A3. Retrieved 30 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Higgins, Charlotte; "Antony Gormley, Turner prize winner 1994", 8 September 2007 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  20. Peter Walker, "Turner Prize winners lead protest against arts cutbacks," The Guardian, 1 October 2010.
  21. "Outstanding Achievement in Dance" on the Olivier Awards website
  22. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 1. 31 December 2013.
  23. Gormley maquette sets artist's auction record
  24. "Another Place" on Antony Gormley's official website
  25. Karlsen, Gar. "Broken Column"
  26. Preece, R. J. (2003). "Antony Gormley: Planets at British Library, London", Sculpture (magazine) / artdesigncafe. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  27. Time Horizon, Archaeological Park of Scolacium
  28. Higgins, Hannah B. The Grid Book Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2009. pp.273-74 ISBN 978-0-262-51240-4
  29. "Antony Gormley – Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac". Retrieved 2014-03-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "The British Library unveils new Antony Gormley sculpture to commemorate English PEN's 90th anniversary". 13 December 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links