Antony Gormley's most
significant solo exhibition in the UK
In September 2019, the Royal Academy of Arts will
present a solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed
British sculptor Antony Gormley (b. 1950), the most significant
in the UK for over a decade. The exhibition will bring together
both existing and especially conceived new works for the
occasion, from drawings and sculptures to experiential
environments, that will take on the RA’s Main Galleries across
all 13 rooms.
Antony Gormley, Clearing V, 2009.
Approximately 11 km of 12.7 mm aluminium tube.
Installation view, KunsthausBregenz, Austria © the
Artist. Photo: Markus Tretter;
Antony Gormley, Body and Fruit, 1991/93.
Cast iron and air, dimensions variable. Installation
view, Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, Sweden © the Artist.
Photo: Jan Uvelius, Malmö;
Antony Gormley, Mould, 1981. Black
pigment, linseed oil and charcoal on paper, 60 x 84 cm ©
the Artist ;
Antony Gormley, Full Bowl, 1977-8. Lead,
6 x 17 x 17 cm. Private Collection, Vienna © the Artist.
Photo: Stephen White, London
Antony Gormley, Earth, Body, Light, 1989.
Earth, rabbit skin glue and black pigment on paper, 38 x
28 cm © the Artist;
Antony Gormley, Matrix II, 2014. 6 mm
mild steel reinforcing mesh, 550 x 750 x 1500 cm.
Installation view, GalerieThaddaeus Ropac, Pantin,
France © the artist. Photo: Charles Duprat, Paris.
Gormley sees the exhibition as a ‘test site’; engaging the
senses, employing scale, darkness and light, and using elemental,
organic and industrial materials. The works will interact with
the Beaux-Arts galleries, creating a series of distinct
encounters that will come together as a collective experience.
It will be a summation of Gormley’s enduring concern with the
inner dark space of the body itself and the body’s relation to
its surroundings: the body as space and the body in space.
Gormley said, “there is no subject until the viewer arrives and
begins to engage.”
The first work, Iron Baby, 1999, will be encountered in the
Annenberg Courtyard. This life-size form of a new-born baby in
cast iron will be tiny within the scale of the courtyard,
suggesting human vulnerability but also the vigour of life.
In the galleries, early, rarely-exhibited works from the late
1970s and early 1980s will show the experimental origins of
Gormley’s practice, with links to Land Art, Performance and
Minimalism. Works featured will include Land, Sea and Air,
1977-79 and Fruits of the Earth, 1978-79 in which natural and
man-made objects are wrapped in lead. This process of encasing
objects in lead evolved into Gormley’s well-known ‘body case’
sculptures, from the 1980s onwards, which use the artist’s own
body as a tool, material and subject. There will be a series of
concrete works from the 1990s including Flesh, 1990 (Duerckheim
Collection). Each volume contains the body form as a void in a
position that tests the enclosing mass. The interior is only
visible through the hands, feet or head that break the surface
of the block.
The exhibition will draw the visitor into a series of whole-room
installations, some reconfigured especially for the RA’s
galleries, and invite them to actively engage with their bodies
as they navigate the space. Lost Horizon I, 2008 (PinchukArtCentre,
Kiev, Ukraine) will feature 24 cast iron figures set in
different orientations on every wall, floor and ceiling,
challenging the perception of which way is up. Clearing VII,
2019 will consist of kilometres of coiled, flexible aluminium
tubing arcing from floor to ceiling and wall to wall; a ‘drawing
in space’ which encircles the visitor. Matrix III, 2019 will
take over the largest gallery: a cloud of intersecting
rectangular dark steel mesh suspended above head height, each
encasing a space equivalent to the average size of a European
bedroom. For Gormley, it is “the ghost of the environment that
we’ve all chosen to accept as our primary habitat” and a work
that continues critical dialogue with perception, “by
constructing an optical maze in which it is impossible to
reconcile foreground, mid-ground and background.”
Host, 2019 will fill an entire gallery to a depth of 23cm with a
vast expanse of seawater and clay, evoking the depths from which
life emerged, it offers a confrontation with elemental substance,
an experience that changes as the hours of autumn daylight
diminish. Since the work was conceived in 1997 it has only been
exhibited three times and this is the first time it will be
shown in the UK. At the centre of the exhibition in the Central
Hall will be two of Gormley’s early ‘expansion’ works; Body and
Fruit, both from 1991-3. These imposing hollow pieces expand the
form of the body to create objects that have the characteristics
of both bomb and fruit. Each weighing several tonnes, the works
will hover centimetres from the floor.
Alongside sculpture, there will be a rich selection of works on
paper, many of them using unusual materials such as crude oil,
earth and blood. For Gormley, drawing is a core, everyday
activity that runs parallel to his sculpture, exploring the same
concerns through different means. This is a rare opportunity to
see significant early drawings such as Mould, 1981 (Private
Collection). Other key series represented include the Body and
Light drawings made with carbon and casein, the Linseed Oil
Works (1985-1990) such as Double Moment, 1987, and the Red Earth
drawings (1987-1998). An accompanying display of Gormley’s
workbooks will reveal the artist’s continual investigation of
ideas that lead to the sculptural works.
Antony Gormley will follow in the Royal Academy’s tradition of
celebrating its Royal Academicians, continuing a strand of
programming that showcases some of the most important living
artists in the world including David Hockney, Anselm Kiefer, Ai
Weiwei and the forthcoming exhibition of Marina Abramović.
Biography Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures,
installations and public artworks that investigate the
relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed
the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a
critical engagement with both his own body and those of others
in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human
beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley
continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of
becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can
arise. Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the
UK and internationally with exhibitions at Uffizi Gallery,
Florence (2019); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
(2019); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2018); Long Museum, Shanghai
(2017); National Portrait Gallery, London (2016); Forte di
Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014);
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and
Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz,
Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall,
Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk,
Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows
such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8,
Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the Angel
of the North (Gateshead,
England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside
Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia), Exposure (Lelystad,
The Netherlands) and Chord (MIT – Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.) Gormley was awarded the Turner
Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the
Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi
Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was
made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a
knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary
Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary
Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity
and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal
Academician since 2003. Antony Gormley was born in London in
Organisation The exhibition is organised by the Royal Academy of
Arts, London. It is curated by Martin CaigerSmith, Head of the
MA Curating the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute, London
and author of major monograph Antony Gormley (Rizzoli, 2017)
with Sarah Lea, Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Catalogue The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully
illustrated catalogue, published by the Royal Academy, with
contributions from Martin Caiger-Smith, Priyamvada Natarajan,
Michael Newman and Jeanette Winterson.
Dates and Opening Hours Press View: Tuesday 17 September 2019,
10am-2pm Open to public: Saturday 21 September – Tuesday 3
December 2019 10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm) Late
night opening: Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)
BNP Paribas AccessArt25
The BNP Paribas AccessArt25 programme will offer 3,000 young
people, aged 17 to 25, free access over the course of three
specially-curated evenings: Monday 23 September, Monday 21
October and Monday 18 November 2019, 6.30-10pm.
Tickets are available daily at the RA or by visiting
Group bookings: Groups of 10+ are asked to book in advance.
Telephone 020 7300 8027 or email
For further information on all ticket options visit: