Antony Gormley sculptures to be installed at Philadelphia museum

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley’s ‘Blockworks’ sculptures will grace the East Terrace of the museum. Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present “STAND,” an installation across the museum’s East Terrace of 10 cast-iron Blockworks sculptures by Antony Gormley, one of the most significant artists of our time. The installation will run from Jan. 24 through June 16.

The artist said: “Like standing stones, these works are markers in space, but I would also like them to engage the viewer’s time. I want to use material mass and the orthogonal forms of the built environment to evoke internal states. This exhibition is incomplete without the subjective witness of the citizen: each work in its different way calls on him/her to simultaneously project and recognize internal affinities in the attitude carried by the block piles. Here is sculpture, not statue; less hero or ideal, more material and real: a public declaration of subjective identity.

“Ten standing works, each about 10 feet high, are placed at regular intervals across the upper terrace, where the viewer, work, and museum share a common ground. From the bottom of the stairs, the works are seen against the sky, but as you approach them, the museum itself appears and becomes their backdrop. From afar, the scale of the works is uncertain, but as you get closer their size and mass become apparent. I want the haptic experience of walking up the 72 steps to be felt.

“These rough cast-iron pillars will become an open ground for psychic projection and perhaps also transmit a sense of a transitive human state. The load path of the blocks, at once stable and precarious, will evoke different states in different viewers, and – far from reinforcing hierarchies of power or mythologies of race, place, or nation – this is a form of interrogation of both individual experience and collective identity.”

When Gormley visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2013 to deliver a public lecture he was taken by the aesthetic and social significance of its setting. It was then that the artist and the museum’s director, Timothy Rub, began to discuss the possibility of this installation.

“We’re delighted to present this remarkable installation in Philadelphia,” said Rub. “Antony Gormley is, simply put, 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. This installation will also enable us to fulfill, in a curatorial sense, one of the key goals of our strategic plan – engaging visitors by moving out into the community beyond the four walls of the museum and activating the remarkable civic spaces around it.”

Born in London in 1950, Gormley studied anthropology and archaeology, and the history of art at Trinity College, Cambridge. He later studied at the Central School of Art, Goldsmiths College, and the Slade School of Art, and began to exhibit his work in the late 1970s.

Gormley has had numerous solo exhibitions over the past 37 years. He won the Turner Prize in 1994 and has been a member of the Royal Academy of Arts since 2003. He was made an Officer of the British Empire in 1997 and knighted in 2014.

Forthcoming projects this year include ESSERE at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, which will run from Feb. 26 to May 26, as well as a major solo exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in September.