Born in London, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and various leading London art colleges, and was one of a group of innovative artists of the 1980s who came to be known as the ‘New British Sculptors’. However, unlike Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon and Richard Wentworth, who mostly work with found objects and abstract forms, Gormley has concentrated almost exclusively on the representation of the naked human figure, which he uses as a vehicle for exploring a range of anthropological and environmental concerns. Almost invariably cast in base metals from his own body, the figures have been presented in gallery exhibitions, such as Between You and Me (Rotterdam, 2008), but more typically appear in outdoor contexts, both urban (Event Horizon, New York, 2010) and landscape (Time Horizon, Catanzaro, Italy, 2006). Intentionally provocative, his work has often generated controversy, nowhere more so than with the 20m-high Angel of the North (Gateshead, 1998), a triumphant hybrid of art and structural engineering that turned the sculptor into a household name and gave impetus to the populist belief that the function of public sculpture is to provide the tourist industry with distinctive ‘landmarks’. He was the winner of the Turner Prize in 1994, was awarded an OBE in 1997, and received a knighthood in 2014.
Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, p. 290; Antony Gormley website; K. Kuiper, ‘Antony Gormley’, Britannica; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 3–7; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 99–104; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. xxi, 144, 146; P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 57–59; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, p. 273.
Ray McKenzie 2018