PREVIEW: Antony Gormley, Royal Academy of Arts

On display from the 21st September, the Royal Academy of Arts will present an exhibition dedicated to the work of the British sculptor.

Antony Gormley, Earth, Body, Light, 1989. Earth, rabbit skin glue and black pigment on paper, 38 x 28 cm © the Artist

The new exhibition will bring together both existing and especially conceived new works for the occasion, from drawings and sculptures to experiential environments, that will be displayed in the RA’s Main Galleries across all thirteen rooms.

Following on from exhibitions by Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley is the latest artist to take over the Royal Academy’s main galleries to test the scale and light of the RA’s architecture. It will explore the artist’s use of organic, industrial and elemental materials over the years, including iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater and clay.

The galleries will display rarely-exhibited works from the late 1970s and early 1980s, revealing the experimental of Gormley’s practise, linking to Land Art, Performance and Minimalism. Works featured in the exhibition will include Land, Sea and Air, 1977-79 and Fruits of the Earth, 1978-79 and concrete works from the 1990s including Flesh, 1990 (Duerckheim Collection).

Meanwhile, the display will also draw visitors into a series of whole-room installations, some reconfigured especially for the RA’s galleries. 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. 

As well as sculpture, the exhibition will also feature works on paper, many of them using unusual materials such as crude oil, earth and blood. This will be a rare opportunity to see 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). 

This display 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.

Antony Gormley will be on display at the Royal Academy of Arts from the 21st September until the 3rd December .

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