From ANTONY GORMLEY: BLIND LIGHT, The Hayward Gallery, The Southbank Centre, London, England, 2007
What is the relationship between architecture, sculpture and drawing, when considered as ‘ways of world- making’? William Blake provides a triptych showing three portraits of the artist as demiurge, creator of a world. First, the architect: Urizen with his compasses dividing the light from the darkness, outlining the spherical form of the cosmos, measuring out the abyss. Second, the sculptor: Los with his hammer, resting to behold his creation, a fiery globe that has been shaped on his forge. Third, the painter-draughtsman hovering over a globe of blood that has drained from his body, like a mother nurturing an embryo with a placenta of fibres, hair and veins.
Three images of the artist engaged in what Henri Lefebvre calls the ‘production of space’: conceived space, the space of the designer or architect; lived, practised, constructed space, the realm of the builder and shaper of materials, the sculptor; perceived or ‘secreted’ space, the immersive environment, reproduced blindly and instinctively, like automatic drawing or painting.
Of course a blink of the eye allows all three figures to change places: the architect is a draughtsman, drawing the outlines of the world in space, sketching a shape to be sculpted in matter; the sculptor is an architect and draughtsman, drawing his form in metal and shaping a world with his hammer; the painter-draughtsman gives birth to a world with fluids drawn from her own body, caught at the moment of parturition when the drawing is still going on, the wound of the birth trauma is still bleeding, the embryonic world not yet separated from its creator. Virtual, actual and visceral worlds delineated in firm, wiry, bounding lines engraved in a copper plate, signed ‘William Blake, sculpsit’.
I wish the English language had a word to denote the convergence of architecture and spatial design with the graphic and sculptural arts. Of course one may question whether – in the age of the post-medium condition, when all media are mixed, hybrid and remediated by digital technologies – there is really any such thing as distinct media. Has architecture, for instance, not gone virtual, existing as much in speculative, notional and graphic or modular form as it does in actual building? And do not the buildings reflect this virtualisation and liquidation, with the seemingly absolute malleability of materials, shapes, surfaces and spaces? And does this not make for a convergence of architecture and sculpture, so that structures such as Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin become a kind of expanded field of sculptural gestures, while Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial goes all the way over to the sphere of public sculpture, but this time as plaza, a place of labyrinthine chasms and rolling contours, a landscape of monolithic gravestones, a social space of mourning and sunbathing, solemn contemplation and frivolous hide-and-seek?
As for drawing, with its connotations of manual production, primal ‘first steps’ towards the fabrication of three-dimensional, material objects, or its secondary role as the trace, the image ‘drawn after’ objects made by nature or art: drawing remains closest to the centre of the vortex of image production, the ‘fissure’ in which Henri Focillon saw ‘crowds of images aspiring to birth’. Drawing is the crossroads of architecture and sculpture, emanating from and returning to the body. It remains linked directly to the hand/eye circuit, the scopic drive and the imaginary, even in the sphere of digital imaging. Think of Saul Steinberg’s world-making draughtsmen, delineating their own environments. Or of Blake’s divine, rational architect drawing the line between light and darkness as the fundamental structure of the visible universe. Think of the legendary origin of drawing and its relation to sculpture in Pliny’s Natural History (written AD c.77): the Maid of Corinth traces the silhouette of her departing lover on the wall, thus inventing drawing, a medium grounded in desire, eros and fantasy(4). But then her father, Butades the potter, goes on to invent sculpture by making a three-dimensional relief portrait out of the sketch as a gift to his daughter. Both the drawing and the sculpture, however, depend upon two prior conditions: 1) the presence of architecture in its minimal form: the silent, blank wall on which the two-dimensional image is cast, traced and then sculpted in three dimensions of ‘relief’ from flatness; 2) the human body, as both the centre and periphery of architecture, what envisions it from without, and inhabits it from within. The body is not only what draws, but also what is drawn, both to sculpture and to architecture. The body is itself both building and statue, a brick shit house or a monument. Whether body as building (as in the metaphor of the temple of the spirit) or the building as a body (complete with skeletal framework, interiority and orifices), whether it is clothed or naked, draped and ornamented, or exposed and transparent, the body is what brings sculpture and architecture together.
Antony Gormley’s figures are almost never clothed, but they are certainly housed – or unhoused, cast out, wandering in the wilderness, on the beach. Sometimes they have a kind of comic, Gulliverian relation to dwelling, as in the aptly titled HOME (1984), in which a prone body finds a place to rest its weary head – but nothing else. The most radical and disturbing housings of the body are the cast concrete-block overcoats of ALLOTMENT II (1996). This work, in its quiet, ambiguous way, is among the most terrifying inventions of modern sculpture. The work literalises the anthropomorphism that Michael Fried complained about in Minimalism: the feeling that (for instance) Robert Morris’ slabs, columns and boxes were of a scale to suggest the human form or presence within. In ALLOTMENT we see the perfect sculptural answer to Brutalist architecture. The structure is essentially one of confinement and fortification, a reduction of openings to minimal orifices. Like the few isolated structures that withstood the nuclear firestorm of Hiroshima, the bunker-like architecture of Allotment could be an image of comfort or survival only in a post-Holocaust landscape. Gormley’s pod-people on life support, and his armoured, cocooned figures are comparable here. The whole effort is to suggest a hidden internal space into which one can imaginatively project oneself – a hollowness that one can infer, but not see, waiting to be filled by the beholder’s body.
But to imagine oneself immured in one of the blocks of ALLOTMENT – blind, but (just) able to breathe, speak and hear – is to imagine the condition of absolute terror (and the structure is reminiscent of certain genres of torture – the ‘Little Ease’ which prevents all bodily movement, or the ‘Iron Maiden’ which surrounds the victim with spikes. BODY (1990) and Gormley’s new work HATCH (2007), specially conceived for this exhibition, correspond even more exactly to the Iron Maiden. HATCH inserts the beholder into a Piranesi-like room in which shafts of metal tubing disrupt the architectural perspective, and resemble what one imagines as the interior of a magician’s box, penetrated from every angle by swords that miraculously leave the body intact. The assembled body casts of ALLOTMENT then, form a kind of Modernist housing project, a tract of Brutalist council flats, one building per body, in which the inhabitants cannot see each other, but could conceivably hear each other.
How could one last for a minute in this confinement without panicking? Only if one imagines oneself in a deep, meditative trance, reducing the activity of the body to a minimum. The phenomenological version of bare life. Inner peace as survival mechanism, the construction of an invisible space in which the beholder must imagine herself as ‘being held’.
The more these distinct media – sculpture, architecture, drawing – seem to merge in these practices, the more indispensable becomes the invocation of their names, as though the ghosts of the traditional artistic media refused to be laid to rest. Stephen Melville’s wonderful essay, 'As Painting', an exploration of painting after its widely reported death, inspires my title here. The work of Antony Gormley is generally classified ‘as sculpture’. He is known for fabricating beaten lead body cases formed around moulds, generally, of his own body. The casings superficially resemble traditional statues, and in fact remind us of early, archaic Greek sculpture in their stasis and rigorous refusal of movement, expression or gesture. They are figures that simply stand, or lie, or crouch. They do not ‘do’ anything, reminding us of the deep link between statues and stasis. The seams of the body casings declare unequivocally that these are constructed bodies, in contrast to the cast body forms, which are solid iron objects, cast ‘from the inside’, as it were, of the body casings. Both kinds of figures come in series, as indistinguishable multiples, impassive, anonymous duplicates who appear in real places often as aliens, outsiders, uncanny apparitions that seem ‘out of place’.
Despite their instant legibility as figures of the male human form, they do not ‘stand for’ anything: they are not warriors or heroic figures, and though their stature and stasis reminds us of the monumental guardian and witness figures that adorn palaces and plazas, their characteristic placement in relation to architecture and public space is typically non-iconographic and non-site-specific. EVENT HORIZON (2007), for instance, treats The Hayward’s sculpture terraces not as a space for displaying sculpture, but as an observation platform from which the more or less distant figures of Gormley’s figures may be glimpsed among the surrounding panorama of London rooftops. These figures tend to occupy places with a sense of sudden, uncanny arrival, temporariness, or disturbingly bizarre intrusion – just the opposite of their internal, corporeal stasis and stillness. They are certainly not sculptural portraits of anyone, including the artist whose body provides the model for their casting, because their impassive anonymity and multiplicity render any specific individual reference doubtful; at the same time it would be doubly accurate to call them ‘Gormleys’, in the sense that the work is ‘branded’ with the name of its author–artist, as well as modelled on the specific contours of his own body. Their branding, however, is not that of the commercial icon or logo, but more like that of the graffiti ‘tag’ or signature, an effect reinforced (as I shall show) by their often disturbing relation to space and architecture.
One is tempted, then, to fuse the double visual-verbal identity of the generic ‘Gormley’ with a third figure, the ‘golem’ or artificial human made from inanimate material, and call these figures ‘gormlems’. Gormlems are best seen as sculptural ‘clones’, identical copies of an absent original that may be indefinitely multiplied. If they signify anything, then, it is the generic (male) human form itself, the central icon of a humanism that today has evolved into a Minimalist post-human form, what Giorgio Agamben has called homo sacer or ‘bare life’, the body as a centre of sentience, awareness, endurance, witnessing and perhaps suffering, and nothing more. Milton might have seen them as avatars of saintly patience and passivity: ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’
Consider three Gormley drawings: the first SOVEREIGN STATE I, (1993), the gormlem as a cocooned figure (cocoon is the literal meaning of ‘golem’ in Hebrew). Lying in a foetal position, hoses attached to the vital orifices of the encased body, this body is housed in a perfect, self-enclosed environment and placed (immersed) in a deep watery environment. It could be in a coma, awaiting its fate as an organ donor, or in a cryogenic sleep, awaiting the awakening. The figure is an uncanny premonition of the pod-people of the classic sci-fi film 'The Matrix' (1999) who live in womb-like life support systems wired up to a virtual reality computer that gives them the illusion of a real life. The philosophical question ‘are we just brains in vats?’ is here staged as a corporeal image, one that was realised, of course, in the sculpted object known as [SOVEREIGN STATE(1993)]. And this is, indeed, the perfect embodiment of the ‘sovereign subject’, the self-enclosed, autonomous, homeostatic human form, lying ‘in state’ as it were.
The second drawing [INTERIOR(1991)] is much simpler: we are inside a very dark space, a cell with a small barred window in the distance. The darkness intensifies as we move towards the light, and fades out to a grey wash as our visual field spreads out, moves to the periphery and tries to locate itself in the foreground. But there is no foreground, just the dark, rectangular tunnel leading to the barred window. This is conceivably the view from inside the figure of SOVEREIGN STATE – or from inside a dungeon, the prison-house as body or building – or both: the casket, pod, cocoon, womb, that confines and nourishes the body. Many of the gormlems, like Minimalist objects, are hollow, and announce their hollowness, asking us to imagine their dark, empty insides, and even to imagine ourselves inside them. This drawing draws us inside, looking out, just as SOVEREIGN STATE drew us outside, looking on.
The third drawing [FLOAT II (1991)], liberation from the other two: a cloud-like figure floating amid the clouds above the sphere of the earth. The body liberated – but from what? From the materiality of the earth-bound body, from gravity, from the dark cell of architecture or the casket of sculpture? Is this an Icarus about to fall? The architect who (in contrast to his father Daedalus) flew too high? Or an angel, or a spirit of the air, hovering above the globe? A demiurge fertilising the earth, measuring its expanse, dividing the light from darkness? This weightless body promises to find its sculptural realisation in the bubble matrices and expansions pieces [see p. 104–13] which are the ‘virtual flotation tank’ of [BLIND LIGHT].
Consider these three drawings as Gormley’s answer to Blake’s three figures of the world-making artist in space: a triptych of body-spaces seen as womb, as cell, and as medium of flight, the body immersed in fluids, immured in solid walls, afloat in clouds. If Blake shows the artistic body as agent, designing, building and secreting new bodies in space, Gormley shows us the passive, non-artistic body, the patient, suffering body, secreting and drinking, gazing out from its cell, hovering in space. It is as if the globes and spheres of light, hammered metal and blood that Blake depicts as the object of artistic labour have become the corporeal, sculptural and architectural environments of Gormley’s drawings. Gormley’s treatment of the human body has, of course, often been compared to Blake’s. He might be thought of as the post-human Blake, the artist of the Blakean body in the age of cloning. He remains faithful to the task he articulated in the 1980s: ‘I am tired of art about art. I am now trying to deal with what it feels like to be a human being.’ Was ever a stranger thing said? One could easily put it in the mouth of one of sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler’s ooloi, the alien creatures who travel the universe interbreeding with the various species they encounter. It only makes sense as the utterance of someone who has called the human being itself into question, conducting an experimental inquiry into the conditions of embodied experience in relation to concrete objects in specific places and times.
Gormley’s work has consistently engaged in what Leonardo da Vinci called a paragone, a dialogue or struggle with the values of architecture and both designed and natural spaces. The classical relationship between sculpture and architecture, or sculpture and designed spaces more generally, is one of ‘site specificity’ and the notion of the statue as a still figure ideally ‘rooted’ in a particular location. Gormley’s sculptural figures defy the Heideggerean doctrine of locating sculpture in the ‘right place’ as a strategy of making a ‘clearing’ for Being to appear. See, for instance, POST (1993), a cast-iron gormlem posted atop a topped and branchless tree, looking over Killerton Park in Exeter. Like Robert Morris’ creosote-covered redwood stumps in his earthwork near the Seattle – Tacoma airport, Gormley’s work flaunts the creative-destructive human agency in clearing and deforestation. But in contrast to Richard Serra’s insistence on the site as an absolutely necessary condition for the identity of the work, Gormley renders the site a conditional, transitory element. If Serra was correct to say that the removal of his TILTED ARC (1981) from the Federal Plaza in New York amounted to the ‘destruction’ of the work, Gormley’s work might be said to stage the temporal conditions of arrival and removal, construction and destruction, as the very essence of its project. Even when a gormlem is located in a permanent site, as with QUANTUM CLOUD (1999) or ANGEL OF THE NORTH (1998), the figure appears ready to take flight, or seems caught (as with QUANTUM CLOUD ) in the moment of its explosive disappearance and dispersal. The ocean-going or ‘beached’ gormlems of ANOTHER PLACE (1997) slowly sink out of sight as the tide advances, and re-emerge as it recedes. This is why photographic documentation is so crucial to Gormley’s practice, and why his drawings do not necessarily precede the sculptural works they reference, but are drawn from the pre-existing, pre-fabricated three-dimensional objects.
These objects can seem, then, like sculptural ‘graffiti’, inserted into places in which they do not belong and will not remain. But unlike graffiti – what Susan Stewart has called ‘crimes of writing’ – they do not attack the space or disfigure it. An instructive contrast would be the work of the graffiti artist Banksy, whose generic, spray-painted stereotypes and wall labels address video surveillance cameras, and warn visitors to Tate Britain to ‘Mind the Crap’. Gormley’s figures aim at a quieter, subtler address to institutional spaces. For Gormley, there is no space for art, no matter how remote, wild or ‘natural’, that is devoid of human, social significance; no abstract, purified environment inside or outside the ‘white cube’ of Modernism. His work reflects a prolonged engagement with the site, but one which tends to treat it as a temporary ‘event horizon’ rather than the place for an eternal monument.
It is a commonplace of contemporary art history that Modernism was obsessed with the problems of the distinctive media, and aimed to purify the media of contaminating forms of hybridity. As Clement Greenberg famously put it, ‘purity in art consists in the acceptance … of the limitations of the medium of the specific art … It is by virtue of its medium that each art is unique and strictly itself.’ Painting and drawing are defined by their flatness, sculpture by its three-dimensional and transparently designed objecthood. As for architecture, Greenberg felt that it had been led out of its ‘eclectic historicism’, its failure to achieve an ‘independent contemporary style’, by painting. Cubist painting in particular was able ‘to reveal the new style in architecture to itself’ and emancipate it (along with sculpture) from its heavy materiality into a dynamic space of thrusts and energetic displacements. The international style of secular, rationalised spatial design unites all the artistic media by treating ‘all matter, as distinguished from space, as two-dimensional’. All the arts are united, in other words, by becoming abstract and weightless. But each must become abstract in its own way. Greenberg also notes that despite the dominance of painting in his narrative, it is threatened by ‘the architectural and social location for which [the painter] destines his product’. There is a ‘contradiction between the architectural destination of abstract art and the very, very private atmosphere in which it is produced’ that ‘will kill ambitious painting in the end’. Painting either has to become larger or smaller: the two by two framed easel painting is in crisis, leaving only two destinations: ‘the wall and the page’ – or the mural and the drawing. ‘The best work of Picasso et al. in the last 20 years … has been in black and white and in reduced format, the etchings and pen-and-ink drawings … and lithographs.’ Strange to say: Modernist architecture is the offspring of Modernist painting. But then the child kills the parent, or compels it to shrink down to its minimal form, and play a merely ornamental role.
A similar fate is often forecast for sculpture, which (in its public form) ornaments the plaza or lobby entrance of modern corporate or state office buildings like the parsley garnish next to the pot roast. Ad Reinhardt’s famous comment, ‘sculpture is what you back into when looking at a painting’, reflects not only the Modernist notion of painting as the dominant medium, but the proper location of sculpture in the ‘empty space’ at the centre of the gallery or white cube. But another commonplace of art history is that in the era of Postmodernism sculpture began to displace painting in the hierarchy of media, challenging architecture at the same time that the architects seemed to want to behave like sculptors, while the art of drawing went underground. Sculpture accomplishes this in several ways: 1) by moving out into the open where (unlike painting) it can survive the weather, and make or find its own place, in a sculpture park, or in remote locations [Robert Smithson’s SPRIAL JETTY(1970) on Utah’s Great Salt Lake or Michael Heizer’s utopian city in the Nevada desert (City [work in progress])]; 2) by filling up architectural space, taking over entire rooms and buildings. Rachel Whiteread’s plaster-cast interiors produce a three-dimensional image of the negative space of a room, while, in some installations, nearly filling the room at the same time. Richard Serra’s interior pieces typically dominate the architectural spaces they inhabit, while the relation of hisTILTED ARC to the urban design of New York’s Federal Plaza was an aggressive attempt to rescue an undistinguished urban space from its own mediocrity by directly challenging its structure; 3) most simply, by attacking or attaching itself to the wall, in one stroke taking over the ‘proper’ location of painting and challenging the boundaries of built space: think here of Robert Morris’ scatter pieces, Donald Judd’s wall cases, Joseph Beuys’ fat corners, Robert Gober’s body projections, Walter De Maria’s EARTH ROOM (1977), Edward Kienholz’s THE ART SHOW (1963–77) and a hundred other works. Minimalism did not bring an end to sculpture. It put it on a new basis, quite literally, in the form of the slab or plinth, the (normally) overlooked support made into a sculptural object.
If Robert Morris had argued that the medium of sculpture had concerns ‘not only distinct but hostile to those of painting’, one might say something similar with regard to Gormley’s sculpture and the framework of architecture – although I would not want to describe it as ‘hostile’. Gormley’s insight into architecture is more like that of Marshall McLuhan in 'Understanding Media' (1964). As a medium, architecture is an ‘extension of man’, specifically (like clothing) an extension of the skin. The sculpture/architecture relation, then, is like that of a secondary and tertiary skin. ALLOTMENT II ‘shrinks’ architecture ‘to the skin’, bringing it as close to the body as possible without crushing it. Womb, tomb, cocoon and room describe the centripetal arc from body to building to sculpture to architecture. And this arc continues down to the inner core of the body, stripped of its skin, muscles, and even its skeleton in the Insiders series, and extends out to the skyline or edge of the world in works such as ANOTHER PLACE and EVENT HORIZON.
The paradox is that, despite the (im)passivity of the figures, the encounter with space and place is dynamic. As I have noted, Gormley’s work consistently betrays a kind of active engagement with, sometimes even a playful aggressiveness towards, architecture. If he ‘shrinks it to the skin’ in ALLOTMENT , he abases himself before it in CLOSE IV (1994); transcends and pierces it in LEARNING TO THINK (1991) and HATCH; invades and overwhelms it in FIELD FOR THE BRITISH ISLES (1993) ; floods it with mud and water in HOST (1991/1997); defies its gravitational laws in EDGE (1985); re-appropriates and incorporates its material elements in BRICK MAN (1987); violates its spatial design in CRITICAL MASS (1995) and TOTAL STRANGERS (1996); shatters it in QUANTUM CLOUD. When Gormley notes that he thinks of his work as ‘a kind of intimate architecture that is inviting an empathetic inhabitation of the imagination of the viewer’, there is nothing to guarantee that the ‘inhabitation’ will be comforting or pleasant, or that a sculpture as architecture will have a peaceful, accommodating relation to its architectural setting. The situation, as I’ve indicated, is more like a paragone (or struggle between the media) than a peaceful settlement.
This is why Gormley’s installation/invasion of The Hayward is such an interesting event. The Hayward is among the most notorious examples of 1960s Brutalist architecture in London. Although grounded in Modernist architecture, Brutalism defies the Greenbergian principle of dynamism, weightlessness and transparency (while remaining faithful to other principles of abstraction in its design and structure). Opaque, heavy walls, massive, rough materials, and the institutional look of the fortress, prison or mausoleum marked Brutalism as a kind of fortified retrenchment of Modernism. (Unsurprisingly, it became a popular institutional style at American universities in the wake of student uprisings and building occupations in the 1960s.) In some quite obvious ways, then, Gormley’s work is perfectly suited to this environment. If one had only ALLOTMENT II from which to generalise, one could call Gormley a neo-Brutalist sculptor.
The inclusion of ALLOTMENT II in this exhibition makes the link between sculptural and architectural Brutalism absolutely clear. But the major emphasis of The Hayward show is to draw the spectator inside the sculptural space, rather than allowing beholders to stand detached from the objects and contemplate them from a distance. This exhibition is not envisioned, in other words, as a retrospective or, indeed, any kind of ‘-spective’ in the sense of disembodied visual distance. It does not survey the history of Gormley’s work, but attempts to produce a new work inside – and outside – the architectural structure of The Hayward, one that calls into question the very notion of the insides and outsides of buildings, environments and sculptural objects.
In the interior of the gallery one encounters a series of designed spaces that render the architecture permeable and dynamic, as if one were to find oneself in rooms that enable a detachment of the beholder’s perspective from the constraints and reassurances of architecture. The bubble matrices and expansion spaces draws the beholder into the feeling of weightlessness, a ‘virtual flotation tank’; while other rooms explore the forms of Piranesian labyrinths, tortuous panopticons in which the bodies of spectators are glimpsed coming in and out of view, and the relation of the seer and seen is put into question. BLIND LIGHT (2007) accomplishes this effect with water vapour; while SPACE STATION (2007) opens portholes into Borgesian spaces; and HATCH extrapolates the logic of the spike-lined casket of the Iron Maiden to an entire room.
We have always been drawn in by Gormley’s work. As with any sculpted object, we seem necessarily to approach it from the outside, drawn to it by the magnetism of the alien and alienated body, the uncanny ‘thing’ that stands over or against us. But this exhibition reverses this process, or literalises it. It draws our bodies inside, physically into environments that invite us to experience the sculptor’s work from inside, as if we were pulled into sculpted, drawn and constructed spaces that we have previously viewed only from the outside as an act of projective fantasy. And then it reverses this process by taking us outside, to the rooftop sculpture courts, notably empty of sculpture, providing the only real prospect (in contrast to the intro-spections of the interior): the roof commanding a view of the London cityscape, subtly punctuated by EVENT HORIZON’s distant figures of gormlems on various institutional rooftops facing The Hayward like alien invaders announcing their occupation of the entire city.
Despite (or perhaps because of) what might seem like a systematic struggle with architecture, then, I suspect that Gormley’s works may be the perfect touchstone (paragone) for experiencing The Hayward in all its glory. His aim is not to use the building as a container for his work, but to transform it into a work. The values of site specificity, installation art and architectural/sculptural, permanence/ephemerality promise to converge in this show. Gormley has always regarded his own work as a kind of ‘intimate architecture’, an intimacy that is as likely to be menacing as reassuring. If he can produce a BREATHING ROOM (2006), why not a ‘breathing building’, a work that will inhale the aura of The Hayward and breathe renewed energy into it at the same time?
1. I use the phrase coined by philosopher Nelson Goodman in his classic text, Ways of Worldmaking, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis, 1978, who dedicated his book to K. L. G., ‘who makes worlds with watercolors’.
2. Lefebvre, H., The Production of Space, Blackwell Publishing, London, 1991 (first published 1979).
3. Focillon, H., The Life of Forms in Art, Zone Books, New York, 1992 (first published 1934).
4. See my essay, ‘Drawing Desire’, in What Do Pictures Want?, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005, pp. 57–75.
5. I am treating drawing and painting here as if they were the same medium, but in a more leisurely exposition it would be necessary to acknowledge the tension between these two practices as well. Certain artists, notably Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, view their painting practices as an attempt to ‘destroy drawing’.
6. Melville, S., ‘As Painting’ in As Painting: Division and Displacement, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001.
7. The anonymity of the ‘Gormleys’ may be seen in sharp relief if one compares them to the famous terracotta army of the 3rd century BC Emperor of China unearthed at Xian. Among the most notable features of this multitude of figures is the fact that each has a distinctive face and head, placed atop a generic body-type (archer, footsoldier, horseman).
8. Agamben, G., Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1998.
9. Organ donation is a common fate of clones in contemporary fiction. See Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (2005), or the film The Island (Michael Bay, 2005), both of which envision a future in which whole communities of clones would be created to donate their organs to the ‘donors’ of the DNA from which they were formed.
10. See the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for an excellent article on the famous ‘body in a vat’ problem, from Cartesian scepticism to Hilary Putnam’s refutation of scepticism.
11. Leonardo’s notion of the paragone, or debate of the arts and media, is principally staged between poetry and painting, but it includes other arts as well. For an excellent introduction, see Claire Farago, Leonardo’s Writings and Theory of Art, Routledge, New York, 1999.
12. See my discussion of Gormley’s spatial practices in ‘What Sculpture Wants: Placing Antony Gormley’ in What Do Pictures Want?, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005, pp. 245–71.
13. See Serra’s own statement, ‘Art and Censorship’ in Art and the Public Sphere, Mitchell, W. J. T., (ed.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1992, pp. 226–33. On site-specificity, see Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002; Deutsche, R., Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996.
14. There are notable exceptions to this rule. The marvellous siting of Sound II (1986) in the seasonally flooded crypt of Winchester Cathedral seems to have found a permanent home, although even it plays a dynamic – if entirely passive – role in relation to the rising and falling water.
15. Greenberg, C., ‘Towards a Newer Laocoön’, Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, O’Brian, J., (ed.), 4 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1986 (first published in Partisan Review, 1940); vol. 1, p. 32.
16. ‘Our Period Style’, Collected Essays, II, (Partisan Review, November, 1949), p. 322.
17. Collected Essays, II, p. 323.
19. ‘The Situation at the Moment’, Collected Essays, II, (Partisan Review, January, 1948), p. 195.
22. It is notable that the curators of As Painting (Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio, 2001) decided to include some of Donald Judd’s hanging wall boxes (fabricated with conspicuously unpainted plywood, with red paint on the interior panel) and one of Robert Smithson’s tilted mirror and gravel pieces.
23. Morris, R., ‘Notes on Sculpture’, Artforum, October, 1966.
24. Antony Gormley in an interview with Hans Anderson in Gombrich, E. H., Hutchinson,J., Njatin, L. B. and Mitchell, W. J. T. , Antony Gormley, Phaidon, London, 1995, p. 148.
25. Antony Gormley in an interview with Gombrich, E. H. in Antony Gormley, Phaidon, London, 1995, p. 17.
W. J. T. Mitchell is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English Language and Literature, and in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago.
WJT MITCHELL - ARCHITECTURE AS SCULPTURE AS DRAWING: ANTONY GORMLEY'S PARAGONE, 2007
From ANTONY GORMLEY: BLIND LIGHT, The Hayward Gallery, The Southbank Centre, London, England, 2007