Few artists would be allowed to flood the Royal Academy with water and mud, but when you’re Antony Gormley, you get a free pass…
Antony Gormley is the next artist to take over the Main Galleries at the Royal Academy of Art. Expect a series of existing works from his 45-year career, as well as pieces created especially for his most significant display in ten years!
See also: The latest and greatest London art exhibitions to visit.
From the British coastline to the rooftops of Manhattan, Antony Gormley’s sculptures are recognised across the world. Visitors may recognise works such as Body and Fruit: imposing hollow pieces expand the form of the body, each weighing several tonnes and hovering just centimetres from the floor.
The sculptor’s most famous London project was ‘One & Other’, which famously encouraged 2,400 members of the public to occupy the usually vacant Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square for an hour each for 100 days, doing precisely whatever they felt like doing.
Sir Antony may be a fellow Londoner, but he’s arguably most famous for his Angel of the North (1998) in Gateshead. While the Royal Academy’s Main Gallery is big, it’s not quite big enough to fit this 20-metre tall structure and its 54-metre wings! This latest exhibition does, however, still include some exciting works – including Host, which is a room filled with seawater and exactly nothing else…
The exhibition will explore Gormley’s wide-ranging use of organic, industrial and elemental materials over the years, including iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater, and clay. The display will also bring to light rarely-seen early works from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which led to Gormley using his own body as a tool to create work.
Visitors are invited by curators to ‘slow down and become aware of their own bodies’ through this series of experiential installations.
Highlights include Clearing VII, an immersive ‘drawing in space’ made from kilometres of coiled, flexible metal which visitors find their own path through.
Lost Horizon I is another artwork that deserves mention, consisting of 24 life-size cast iron figures set at different orientations on the walls, floor, and ceiling – challenging our perception of which way is up.
Gormley sees the exhibition as a ‘test site’, engaging the senses through employment of scale, darkness and light, as well as use of elemental, organic and industrial materials.
Alongside sculpture, there will be a rich selection of Gormley’s paper works, using unusual materials ranging from crude oil, to earth, and even blood.
The exhibition has even inspired this extremely extra afternoon tea, which features sculptures a little less big and a little more edible. For the real deal though, head to the Royal Academy and step into the amazing mind of Sir Antony Gormley.
Opening hours: The Antony Gormley exhibition runs until 3 December 2019. You can visit Sunday to Thursday 10am-6pm, Friday 10am-10pm, with special Saturday late openings 10am-10pm (except 5 October and 23 November).
Entry: £18 – £22. Concessions are available.
More information: on their website.
Please note: if you are sensitive to enclosed spaces, one of the works may not be suitable for you to enter. Please ask a member of staff for the best route around. Some of the works contain water, sharp edges and materials that can transfer onto clothing.
Featured image: Antony Gormley, Matrix III, 2019. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts