Fascinated by the human body, the British sculptor Antony Gormley has developed a critical engagement with it in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and cosmos. Through his anthropomorphic sculptures, he explores the intricate relationship of our physicality within the confines of space and time.
A selection of 10 cast-iron sculptures from the Blockworks series will soon be on view in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Titled STAND, this installation is comprised of pieces which serve as markers in space, at the same time seeking to engage the viewer's time and evoke internal states. As the artist explains, each work calls on the viewer to at the same time project and recognize "internal affinities in the attitude carried by the block piles."
Regarded as one of the most significant artists of our time, Antony Gormley visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2013 to deliver a public lecture, at the invitation of Helen Drutt English. It was then that the artist began to consider the possibility of this installation, impressed by the aesthetic and social significance of the museum's setting.
Museum's Director Timothy Rub explains that the installation is in line with the key goal of the museum, to engage visitors "by moving out into the community beyond the four walls of the Museum and activating the remarkable civic spaces around it." As he explains, Gormley is "an extraordinary artist whose work has reimagined social engagement, and extended and given new meaning to an age-old tradition: the representation of the human figure."
The installation STAND is comprised of ten standing works, each about ten feet high, which are placed at regular intervals across the upper terrace, where the viewer, work, and museum share a common ground. The scale of the works becomes fully apparent as the viewer approaches them, creating the haptic experience of walking up the 72 steps.
A form of interrogation of both individual experience and collective identity, these works are meant to evoke different states in different viewers, investigating what sculpture can make us think and feel. The artist examines whether the sculpture can work on us "to recognize our true selves and allow collective space to again be a space in which personal truth can arise?"
The installation STAND will be on view in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art across the Museum’s East Terrace from January 24th until June 16th, 2019.
The installation is curated by Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, with Alice Beamesderfer, The Pappas-Sarbanes Deputy Director for Collections and Programs
The conversation with the artist titled In the Artist's Voice: Antony Gormley will take place on Thursday, January 24th at 6 p.m. at the Perelman Auditorium. In conversation with Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, Gormley will discuss his installation and the role that sculpture plays in civic life. Preceding the talk, there will be a public reception at 5:30 p.m. in the Perelman Building's Skylit Atrium.
Featured image: STAND by Antony Gormley, 2018. Digital rendering of installation view, Philadelphia Museum of Art. © Antony Gormley. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery. Images via Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Bristol, United Kingdom