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Antony Mark David Gormley
Angel of the North in Gateshead
Birth name Antony Mark David Gormley[1]
Born 30 August 1950 (1950-08-30) (age 59)[1]
London, England, UK[1]
Field Sculpture

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.


Early life

The youngest of seven children born to a German mother and an Irish father,[1] Gormley grew up in a wealthy family living in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London.[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] Attending various colleges in London from 1974, he completed his studies with a postgraduate course in sculpture at the Slade School of Art, University College London, between 1977 and 1979.


Another Place where 100 cast iron figures face out to sea on Crosby Beach, near Liverpool.
Iron: Man, in Victoria Square, Birmingham.
Pair of figures separated by plate glass, Regent's Place, London.
1 of 31 actual size figures on London's skyline in Event Horizon
Antony Gormley and David Chipperfield´s Sculpture for an objective experience of architecture (2008), Kivik Art Centre, Sweden.
Foto: Bengt Oberger

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."[2] 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."[2] 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. He was later 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."[3]

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.[citation needed] The appropriation of others' works caused minor controversy, with some of the figurines being 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 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, London.[4] 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, with Gormley set to make an appearance as himself.[5]

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

Major works

Gormley's website includes images of nearly all of his works up to 2009. The most notable include:

Proposals not taken forward

  • Brick Man — a proposal for the Holbeck Triangle, a disused patch of land bounded by three railway embankments just outside Leeds City station, was to be a representation of the human male form, made in brickwork and standing over 30 metres high. The proposal, made in 1988, was not favoured by the city, which refused planning permission.
  • Ejaculating Man — Gormley proposed a 40-foot-high ejaculating man for the waterfront at Seattle. The figure was meant to give an 11-second ejaculation of sea water every five minutes. "I intended it as an ironic comment on the male figure in relation to the whole idea of a fountain, because everyone knows the fountain is a male fantasy of permanent ejaculation." This was seen as inappropriate, and so was rejected.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Wroe, Nicholas; "Leader of the pack", 25 June 2005 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  2. ^ a b Antony Gormley: Making Space, Beeban Kidron documentary, 2007, shown on Channel 4 UK, November 2009; [1]
  3. ^ Higgins, Charlotte; "Antony Gormley, Turner prize winner 1994", 8 September 2007 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  4. ^ a b "One & Other — official website" (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  5. ^ Nikkhah, Roya; "Antony Gormley to star in The Archers", 28 June 2009 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)
  6. ^ Time Horizon, Archaeological Park of Scolacium
  7. ^ Flintoff, John-Paul; "Antony Gormley, the man who broke the mould", 2 March 2008 (Retrieved: 6 August 2009)

External links

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