Sir Antony Mark David Gormley, OBE (born 30 August 1950) is a British sculptor. 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, Brazil, in 2012, and in Hong Kong in 2015–16.
In 2008 The Daily Telegraph ranked Gormley number 4 in their list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".
The youngest of seven children born to a German mother and an Irish father, Gormley has stated that his parents chose his initials, "AMDG" to have the inference Ad maiorem Dei gloriam - "to the greater glory of God". Gormley grew up in a Roman Catholic family living in Hampstead Garden Suburb. He attended Ampleforth College a Benedictine boarding school in Yorkshire, before reading archaeology, anthropology and the history of art at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1968 to 1971. He travelled to India and Sri Lanka to learn more about Buddhism between 1971 and 1974. 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. Gormley said of her:
The couple have three children, a daughter and two sons.
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." 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." 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. The appropriation of others' works caused minor controversy and some of the figurines were stolen in protest. Also in 2006, the burning of Gormley's 25-metre high The Waste Man formed the zenith of the Margate Exodus.
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." 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."
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. 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.
In 2012, Gormley began making sculptures that could be termed as "digital-cubism". 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.
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). The Dorset sculpture was knocked over into Kimmeridge Bay by a storm in September 2015.
On 6 September 2015, Another Place saw its 10th anniversary at Crosby Beach in Liverpool. Talking of their 10th birthday.
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.
Antony Gormley is primarily known for the lead figures cast from his own body. Antony Gormley’s belief that the spiritual and physical selves are inseparable is reflected in works such as; ‘Land, Sea and Air’ (1982). Three figures, crouching, kneeling and standing, were placed on the seashore, embodying the process of Buddhist spiritual awareness. The work also referred to the earthly condition of the body and man’s relationship with his surroundings. These concerns are further reflected in Antony Gormley’s full use of installation space, with sculptures suspended from ceiling and walls. Many works were made specifically for natural environments, most controversially Angel of the North (h. 20 m, wingspan 54 m; 1998), which towers over the M1 motorway in Gateshead, England.
Antony Gormley mounted his first one-man exhibition in 1981, at the Serpentine gallery and had further exhibitions there. In 2001 The Serpentine gallery Published lithograph; Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Sexual Field Asexual Field’.
Antony Gormley’s draughtsman skills are evident in his early woodcuts of 1990; Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light I’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light II’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light III’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light IV’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light V’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light VI’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light VII’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light VIII’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light IX’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light X’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light XI’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Bearing Light XII’. And Antony Gormley’s black and white set of 1990 etchings; Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 01’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 02’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 03’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 04’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 05’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 06’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 07’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 08’. Antony Gormley, print, signed ‘Body and Soul 09’.