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Antony Gormley
Photo: Lars Gundersen
Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage


2000

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 Quantum Cloud. 2000


Galvanised steel
29 16 10 m
Installation at the
Thames at Greenwich,
London
Photo: Stephen White
Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage

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/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

89

THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Anna Diakonitsyna

The Sculptural Anthropology


of Antony Gormley
The art of Antony Gormley, a classic of contemporary British
art, has long enjoyed worldwide recognition today he is one
of the most sought-after modern artists. Every year, different
countries host from five to ten new exhibitions of his sculptures, including large-scale open-air projects. Several of his
works are permanently exhibited in the UK: among them the
piece that brought fame to Gormley Angel of the North
(1998) with wings measuring 54 meters, in Gateshead in the
North East of England, as well as Quantum Cloud, mounted
in Greenwich by the Thames, and Another Place, sited in
2005 on Crosby Beach in Merseyside.

90

-


, ,
17 2009
:

Workshop of Antony
Gormley at the Garage
Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow,
17 July 2009
Photo: Victor Boyko

Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage

/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009




,

Domain Field 
at the Garage Center
for Contemporary
Culture, Moscow
Photo: Anna Dyakonitsyna

ormley was born in 1950 in London.


After graduation from Trinity College,
Cambridge, with a degree in archaeology,
anthropology and art history, he left Britain
and traveled in India. When he returned to
London three years later, he continued his
education at Central Saint Martins College
of Art & Design, Goldsmiths College, and
at the Slade School of Art.
He is widely viewed as a sculptor who
shifted the focus of modern sculpture back
to the image of the human being. A concentration on a wide range of subjects related to the material environment, which distinguished his early artwork in the 1970s, by
the early 1980s was replaced with close
attention to the human body, which became
the main object of the sculptors work. In
the 1980s Gormley created statues imaging
anthropomorphic figures in a wide variety
of poses, some of them fanciful and painful.
His figures, of nearly human size, sited
indoors or outdoors, represent allegories of
elemental forces, times of day, calm or
motion, and different emotional states:
Three Ways (1981), Land Sea and Air
(1982), Fall (1983), Proof (1984),
Earth (and Water) (1985), Sound II
(1986), and others. In some of the pieces
created then the presence of a human being
is felt only by the very trace of it a shadow, contour, footprint or an impression
made by a body on clay or gouged on a
stone: Bed (1981), Heavy Stone IV
(1982), Still Falling (1983).
In the 1990s the artist, without
digressing from his main theme, started to
study, by means of art, the problems of
community born out of interaction of individualities (in the series of projects Field,
1991-2003; Another Place, 1997-2005).
During the last decade, the sculptor has
been losing interest in mass and volume and
refocusing on attempts to sculpturally and
visually embody the ideas of energy fields,
systems and vectors that emerge as the
result of interaction of separate parts
(Inside Australia, 2002-2003, Blind
Light 2007-2009).

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

At this period he conceived the idea of


the Domain Field project, implemented
in 2003 with the support of the BALTIC
Center for Contemporary Art (UK). It was
no coincidence that this installation one
of Gormleys most eye-catching and innovative works was chosen for his first major
show in Russia, organized by the Center for
Contemporary Culture Garage.
Gormley placed statues of people in
an exhibition space with white walls overall, 287 life-size figures were created for the
installation. Each was fashioned after a real
person, with residents of the British cities
Newcastle and Gateshead, aged between
two and 85, as models. During the first stage
of the project, a specially-trained team
moulded in plaster the volunteers bodies.
Then, using the moulds, sculptures were
made thin stainless steel bars welded
together.
Certainly, the concept itself reminds
one of the terracotta warriors of the Chinese
emperor Qin Shi Huang, where the image
of every warrior is individualized. This parallel is also obvious in Gormleys other
pieces first of all, in the series of installations under the generic name Field, with
its clay-made objects. A huge army of
anthropomorphous figures takes up the
entire space of the exhibition, thus barring
the entrance to the space they occupy. The
only way to view the figures is through an
open door. This is akin to the perception of
a painting one can immerse oneself in the
92

space of a painting through ones eyes but


cannot enter it. The opposition I and the
Others is materialized here in a most dramatic way.
In the Domain Fields installation,
on the contrary, the figures are immaterial,
translucent and appear weightless. Like in a
light penciled sketch, the figures volume is
barely traced in the space with angular,
short steel rods. The figures do not share a
common shape, and they also differ in density the forms alternatively condense and
melt into the air.
This effect of such virtual presence of
a multitude of people men and women,
old people and children greatly intrigues
and captivates the viewer who has found
himself inside the domain field. This
resembles most human memory governed
by its own rules of space and time. We can
all bring our own memories to this place,
Gormley says about this installation. The
field acts as a filter: perhaps with certain
sculptures a certain memory of a particular
person may occur to you. These are subtle
bodies derived from material bodies. The
point that I am making is that the subject of
the work is not just in the works themselves,
nor are they simply a formal exercise its
a relation of viewers and the work.1 The
figures shot through with emptiness from
every side spring to life and materialize only
when they come in touch with live people:
The sculptures call for what they lack:
movement, thought, feeling, life. They call

/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009




,

Domain Field 
at the Garage Center
for Contemporary
Culture, Moscow
Photo: Anna Dyakonitsyna

2
3
4

Antony Gormley. Notes on


Domain Field. In: Antony
Gormley. Domain Field.
2009. P. 10.
Ibid. P. 7, 10.
Ibid. P. 10.
Ibid. P. 11

upon our conscience, our feeling, our


movement, and we become part of the
work.2
In his practice of art, Antony Gormley assigns a special place to the viewer
the place of enthusiastic co-author whose
input is vital for the very existence of modern art: Without being seen or physically
experienced, the work has no value, no
function. Once it is in relation to the movement of people it has a kind of transferred
energy.3 A reverse process is important too:
The threshold reminds you of your own
scale. Once you cross it you go into a
strange zone, where you are testing yourself
losing and perhaps finding. The idea of
reconnection comes up you cant connect with a wider context of life, or its inner
necessity, until you are lost. Any new experience should be a question of loosing your
coordinates. Hopefully you come back and
find your home again but through a different aperture.4
Just as important is the threshold of
estrangement in Antony Gormleys installations sited outside museums or exhibition
spaces, in an authentic natural or urban
environment. Much public attention was
given to Gormleys project Another Place
it features dozens of the statues imaging
the sculptor himself, which were sited on
Crosby Beach in Merseyside, and left to the
will of water and wind. The figures are especially impressive during a high tide or a
storm, when they are awash with water.

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/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

93

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS



:

Fabrication 
of Domain Field
Photo: olin Davison
Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage




,

:

Domain Field 
at the Garage Center
for Contemporary
Culture, Moscow
Photo:
Anna Dyakonitsyna




,

Domain Field 
at the Garage Center
for Contemporary
Culture, Moscow
Photo: Anna Dyakonitsyna

94

/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

95

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

-


, ,
17 2009
:

.

Workshop of Antony
Gormley at the Garage
Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow,
17 July 2009
Photo: Victor Boyko
Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage


2003
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Inside Australia. 2003


Cast alloy of iron,
molybdenum, iridium,
vanadium and titanium
51 elements based on
51 inhabitants of Menzies, West Australia
Photo: Ashley de Prazer
Courtesy of the CCC Moscow Garage

96

A human figure within the space of a


megalopolis, no longer protected by architecture, became the main theme of the
project Event Horizon, which premiered in London in 2007. The name chosen for the installation is a term borrowed
by the vocabulary of culture from mathematics jargon it denotes a boundary in
time and space between those phenomena
that can be changed or foreseen, and those
that cannot be changed or known beforehand. Next year, Muscovites are to see this
project and thus to continue their acquaintance with Gormleys art. The sculptor
plans to mount 27 figures on top of buildings in the city centre. Another four sculptures are to be sited on the ground. Gormley says that a demonstration of this installation in a country with a tenacious memory of the collective past and Soviet realities is certain to enrich the perception of
the installation with new meanings.
All of Gormleys artwork, starting
from the 1990s, is distinguished by attention to its viewers their individualities,
along with cultural and national identities.
The series of installations called Field,
carried out, in succession, on five continents, became a milestone in his career.

/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

For each of the projects, local residents


created thousands of clay figures highly
generalized and at the same time individualized images. Then, according to the
sculptors idea, they were arrayed within a
chosen installation space.
In his other projects, too, Gormley
has used volunteer participants who created objects. Highly inclusive, his art destroys
the caste insularity dominating the modern
art community. Thus, the principle of collective creative endeavour is at the core of
Gormleys installation Clay and the Collective Body unveiled in the spring of 2009
in Helsinki. A huge cube of clay weighing
more than 100 tons, initially exhibited in a
specially created building, later was offered
up as a material for moulding, to be used by
more than 2,000 participants, whose creations filled up the exhibition space.
Gormleys master class at the Garage Centre, in conjunction with the Moscow show,
was a continuation of sorts of this project.
The surprising role exchange, when
ordinary people become creators of sculptural forms, makes one reflect on authorship and viewership, on who creates art and
to whom it is addressed. Precisely these
subjects are tackled in one of Gormleys

latest works One & Other a live artwork, sited on Trafalgar Square in London,
which evolved until mid-October. Its significance is increased by the fact that the
empty plinth on which the project was
sited is situated in front of the citys
National Gallery, while the other three
plinths that surround the square are dedicated to stone memorials of Victorian-era
military heroes; the empty plinth had
been used before Gormleys project as a
similar temporary, rotating sculptural
space, sometimes to controversy. For 100
days 2,400 volunteers, one after another, in
an uninterrupted succession, spent an hour
each on a plinth as a live statue. They
were allowed to do whatever they like
singing, dancing, reciting verse, being
themselves or impersonating some other
person.
A classic of modern art who has won
top prizes and most prestigious awards in
the field of the visual arts, Antony Gormley never stops looking for new forms of
expression. Maybe for some young Russian artists acquaintance with his artwork,
such as his installations Domain Field
and Event Horizon, will become a turning point.

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/ THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY / #32009

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