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 Antony Gormley  (1950 - )

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: large-scale figurative sculpture, installation

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from Auction House Records.
Angel of the North (Life-Size Maquette)
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Sculptor Antony Gormley, his art influenced by modernist theory and non-Western religious studies, was born in London, England in 1950.  Working out of a London studio, he uses lead, iron, terracotta and sometimes found objects to interpret the human form in works that range from very small to one hundred seventy-five feet in size.  Rather than carving or modeling, he measures and casts.  His goal is to create figure with no identity, 'everymen' that are blank human bodies upon which viewers can cast their own interpretations and make themselves and their ideas the meaning of the work.

According to Gormley, "...the body is the object through which you live.  It is the vehicle through which all your impressions of the world come and it is also the broadcasting instrument for all your contributions to the world."

He is six-feet tall "with very black hair just beginning to silver, owl-like spectacles, and a manner that is at once patrician and alternative." (Gayford 120)  He was christened Antony Mark DAvid Gormley as his parents intended his initials to be AMDG for Ad Majorem De Gloriam, "To the Greater Glory of God." He attended the Benedictine Monastic School in Ampleforth, Yorkshire, and later, Trinity College in Cambridge, where he studied anthropology, archaeology and art history.  After several years in Sri Lanka and India doing meditation and other religious studies with S.N. Goenka, a well-known Buddhist teacher, he decided between becoming an artist or a Buddhist monk, and choose art.

Gormley returned to England in 1974, and since then has 'lost his faith.'  He says:  "I am of the mud-upward rther than heaven-downward persuasion." (Gayford, 121)  He studied sculpture for one year at the Central School of Fine Art, transferring to Goldsmiths College, London, completing postgraduate studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1979.   He is married to Vicen Parsons, a painter, and living in North London, they have three children.

He received the Turner Prize in 1994, and the Order of the British Empire for service to sculpture in 1998.  Gormley's work has been exhibited in England at the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Tate Gallery, as well as around the world. A public sculpture, the largest in England, Angel of the North, 1998, in Gateshead, weighs two-hundred tons and is sixty-five feet wide by one hundred seventy-five feet high.  Beginning with a cast of Gormley's body, it ended up a huge half-man, half-flying machine.

In the fall of 2006, Gormley burned his Waste Man to ashes in Margate, England, a southeastern seaside resort.  The figure, composed of discarded objects of local people, took Gormley six weeks to contruct and 32 minutes to burn, is symbolic of the community where it was built:  Margate was once an upper class, fashionable place to stay but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has become an asylum for refugees from Africa and Asia.  For Gormley, his Waste Man signified "the detritus of the Western overproduction of things, a symbol of dispossessed and marginalized humanity." (Gayford, 119)

Sources:
Martin Gayford, "Crouching Figure, Burning Waste Man", ARTnews, June 2007
ARTNews, 2003;
ArtForum, 2005




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