In 1994 Gormley was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize for his work
'Field', a work which consists of approximately 35,000 individual
terracotta figures, each between 8 and 26cm high, installed in a room,
facing the viewer. Their eyes are raised, staring, suggesting timeless
humanity and its perplexities. The figures were sculpted in Mexico by
a family of brick makers, under the supervision of the artist. When it
was unveiled at the Tate Gallery in 1994, the sculpture received much
popular press - but there was also some negative feeling as some members
of the public felt that credit for the work should go to the Mexican family,
and not the artist. Although the sculpture has been installed in various
locations, the miniatures are always placed looking towards the viewer.
Subsequently several other versions of Field have been created
including: Amazonian Field (1991, 24,000 figures sculpted in Porto
Velho, Brazil); Field for the British Isles (1993, 40,000 figures
crafted in St Helens, Liverpool); European Field (1993, 40,000
figures carved in Sweden); Asian Field China (2003, created in
the Guangdong province, China); Asian Field Japan (2004, 200,000
figures sculpted in Tokyo) and Field for the Art Gallery of New South
Wales (1989). The 2006 Sydney Biennale featured Gormley's Asian Field
of China. The sculpture was made by 350 Chinese villagers in 5 days from
100 tons of red clay. Again, the appropriation of other people's labour,
led to some of the figurines being stolen in protest.
Note About Sculpture Appreciation
To learn how to evaluate postmodernist sculptors like Antony Gormley,
see: How to Appreciate
Modern Sculpture. For earlier works, please see: How
to Appreciate Sculpture.
Sculpture: Another Place
In 1997 Gormley created Another Place. He forged 100 life-size
cast iron standing figures that are spread across 3 kilometres of beach
near Liverpool. The figures are all cast from the artist's own body and
are shown in different stages of rising out of the sand, looking towards
the water, staring, silently. The work is sometimes associated with the
universal sentiments associated with emigration, of loss and new beginnings.
Gormley is considered by this work, and others, to have rescued the human
figure - a central theme of sculpture since classical antiquity - from
its long period of abstention during Abstract Expressionism's popularity.
In 2006 the statues were to be moved to New York, but after successful
local appeal they will now remain permanently in Liverpool.
Sculpture: Angel of the North
Since the early 1990s Gormley has worked on more large-scale installations.
One of his most famous is the statue Angel
of the North, situated by the A1/M1 Motorway, near Gateshead in England.
The sculpture is 20 meters high, its wing-span is 54 metres, and it weighs
nearly 200 tons. Inspired by childhood memories of imaginary guardian
angels, Gormley aimed to replicate one of these divine helpers in this
work. Angel of the North also embodies ideas about technology and
progress, in particular how man has changed as a result of progress and
to what extent his body is dependent on technology. The Angel of the
North is based on the artists own body, albeit greatly magnified.
The sculpture, made from Cor-Ten weather resistant steel, was created
in three pieces off site at a local steel factory, at a cost of one million
Trafalgar Square: Fourth Plinth
The Fourth Plinth is the name given to the empty plinth in the north-west
corner of Trafalgar Square in London. Originally designed in 1841 to display
an equestrian statue, funds ran out and so the plinth became known as
the 'empty plinth'. In 1998 the Royal Society for the encouragement of
Arts commissioned a series of three works by Mark Wallinger, Bill Woodrow,
and Rachel Whiteread to be displayed temporarily on the plinth. Ever since
then, the Plinth has been used for temporary installations and art works
by international artists. Mark Quinn created a sculpture called Alison
Lapper Pregnant - a portrait of Lapper, a disabled artist, when she
was 8 months pregnant. The sculpture was created out of a single block
of white marble and created a high level of media interest. In 2009 Gormley
was given a spot on the plinth. He called his installation One &
Other. Basically one person stood on the Plinth, every hour, 24 hours
a day for 100 days. The people who participated were known as Plinthers,
and were allowed to make the Plinth their own space for that one hour.
Those 2,400 people who took part were chosen randomly from 35,000 website
requests. One & Other ran between 6 July and 14 October 2009.
In recent works, Gormley has created figures from wire, so as to make
the inner space visible, emphasising the imaginative potential and openness
of his sculptures. These have proven popular in commercial galleries around
the world. His work has been exhibited in some of the best
art museums in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New
York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Louisiana Museum; the
Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC; the Irish Museum of Modern art
in Dublin; the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; and the Kolnischer Kunstverein
in Germany. In 2009 he had a solo show at the Galleria Continua Beijing
and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg. Currently a trustee of the Baltic
Center for Contemporary Art and the British Museum, Gormley is also an
Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He continues to live and
work in London.