Antony Gormley: Royal Academy of Arts

Martyn White

Posted on October 27 2019

One of Britain's most famous contemporary sculptors, Antony Gormley reveals his most ambitious exhibition to date at London's Royal Academy of Arts. 

The 69-year-old Turner prize-winning artist, Antony Gormley takes over the Royal Academy of Arts, transforming thirteen of its galleries into an impressive showcase of the sculptor's iconic works. Famed for his contemporary creations often inspired by the human body and the mind, visitors are invited to observe, interact and reflect on the personal subjects that the works portray. With rooms that defy gravity, sculptures that you can climb around, to ones that you can walk inside. Gormley's latest exhibition creates a story as individual as the thousands of people that have already visited. It is not only an immersive experience but one that makes us think about life, the mind, the body and our existence. 

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Matrix III, 2019

Constructed with six tonnes of steel mesh that is used to reinforce concrete, rebar is the hidden foundation to which almost all new architecture is constructed from, Gormley describing it as the "inner skeleton of the environment we live in." With over half of the World's population living within the urban grid, Matric represents the built environment that we live in. The sculpture consists of 21 room sized cages that invade each other's space, suspended from the ceiling for visitors to walk underneath for a unique perspective of scale. The structure represents modern-day living, people living on top of each other in a claustrophobic world. 

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Body and Fruit, 1991/93

Body and Fruit are based on moulds of Antony Gormley's body, curled up in the foetal position. Suspended from the great hight of the Cental Hall ceiling on thick wires, the pieces transform bodily movement into a totally different form of motion: contained explosions or an expanding universe.

Cave, 2019

Constructed especially for the exhibition, Cave is a sculpture on an architectural scale. Allowing visitors to walk through a collection of interlocking rectangular and cuboid forms, very few will realise that the boxes create the form of a giant body, crouched into the room of the gallery. The installation is built on the idea that the built environment is our second body. It protects us and gives us comfort in an unforgiving world, however, when one walks into this dark space and closes their eyes, our imagination can extend out of our own bodies and into endless spaces.


Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Lost Horizon I, 2008

Arguably, one of Gormley's most recognised works is the cast iron body cases, appearing in select locations around the world, particularly in the UK.  From the 100 figures that stand, looking out towards the sea at Crosby Beach, Merseyside, to the 31 sculptures in 'Event Horizon', appearing in locations around London and later New YorkSão Paulo and Hong Kong, the works have attracted international recognition, shrouded in mystery and intrigue. With Lost Horizon I, the cast iron sculptures appear to defy gravity, standing on the ceiling, walls and floor. The installation represents the mind when we close our eyes and how it can occupy another kind of space, one without coordinates.

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, LondonAntony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Host, 2019

Host sits in contrast to the architectural presence of Matrix, taking over the entirety of a gallery space and allowing visitors to peer in from one perspective, essentially outside looking in. Earth, water and air fill the interior yet there is no form. The space appears empty, yet it is the surrounding architecture that gives the work its form. 

Clearing VII, 2019

Using 8 kilometres of flexible steel tubing which has been coiled and allowed to unravel on its own accord, Clearing is an installation that has created itself. Descrived by Gormley as a "Chaotic web that fills a room to create a type of energy field", the gallery receives a wide range of responses, from excited children that run around and swing off the bars to people with a sense of intrigue, cautiously navigating through the tubing, creating a unique experience for all. 

The Antony Gormley exhibition has a little something for everyone. Whether you are an avid fan of his works or know very little about the artist and sculptor, every gallery reveals another side to his fascinating mind and thought process. The immersive experiences, impressive scale and the process of creation, this is an exhibition that produces as many questions as it answers and is one I already want to return to for more. 

Antony Gormley is exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts between September 21st - 3rd December and due to popular demand, extended opening times have been announced. For further information and to book tickets, click to view the official Royal Academy of Arts website. 


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