Antony Gormley

TERRACOTTA AND LEAD WORKS, 1983 - 1988

I became interested in the mid-eighties in working in a direct way with material that would take immediate impressions of touch.

LEAD always dealt with a condition, with taking the body as a readymade and making an indexical case. Now I was looking for ways of working where imagination could feed directly into material, like drawing.

I began by making houses such as HOUSE AND BODY, or HOME, using brick clay to make doll's-house sized archetypal houses. HOME evokes both claustrophobia and dream space, as well as tackling the mind-body divide.

This concern continued in works like IDEA, with a terracotta egg that balances on the head of a walking bodycase, and THE BEGINNING, THE MIDDLE AND THE END, where a terracotta homunculus sits on the head of a walking man preceded by a lead shadow. Here the lead bodycase which is made for a real body, is held between an abstract and an imagined body.

All this started with WORK, a piece that evokes the potential of clay, two lumps of clay cupped in either hand like a set of scales, evoking the potential combination of imagination and substance through the hands of the worker.

With VIEW, a bodycase gazes into an empty amphora. This contrasting of closed and open is like the earlier lead bowl and seed pieces.

The most fruitful of these works was MAN ASLEEP, which was eventually to lead to FIELD. It started with seeing a relief by Lorenzo Maitani on the façade of Orvieto Cathedral, which shows the creation of Eve when she is rising out of Adam's side. I took this as a parable about man's unconsciousness and feeling of a lack of responsibility for his own destiny. This is the mythical moment when duality and the possibility of evil comes into the world, and Adam is asleep.

I started with the idea of making Eve as a mushroom cloud coming out of Adam's side, but in the end it was all too metaphorically and physically heavy, and the solution was to make a line of walking terracotta figures that slink behind the head of the sleeping bodycase, as if a dream of history is passing behind an unconscious body.

The challenge was to wake Adam, as the viewer, up, and make him somehow the subject of time's gaze - both history and the future. MAN ASLEEP turned into FIELD: the final emancipation of terracotta, but before then there were a few works like DAWN, NIGHT AND DAY, and TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, that attempted through scale to make a field or crowd of small bodyforms that stood for a human population.

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HOME

HOME, 1984
Lead, terracotta, fibreglass, plaster and air
65 x 220 x 110 cm
Collection of Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, Austria

OUT OF THIS WORLD, 1983-84

OUT OF THIS WORLD, 1983-84
Lead, terracotta, fibreglass and plaster
140 x 85 x 140 cm

THE BEGINNING THE MIDDLE THE END, 1983-84

THE BEGINNING THE MIDDLE THE END, 1983-84
Terracotta, lead, air, plaster and fibreglass
235 x 300 x 75 cm

WORK

WORK, 1984
Lead, terracotta, fibreglass and air
195 x 192 x 30 cm
Bonnier Collection, Stockholm, Sweden

EARTH [AND WATER], 1985

EARTH [AND WATER], 1985
Terracotta and lead
65 x 54 x 60 cm

VIEW, 1985

VIEW, 1985
Terracotta, plaster, fibreglass and air
Figure: 50 x 111 x 54 cm
Pot: 50 x 123 x 50 cm

MAN ASLEEP

MAN ASLEEP, 1985
Lead, plaster, fibreglass, air and terracotta Figure: 50 x 185 x 63 cm; Terracotta figures: dimensions variable

UNDER THE SUN

UNDER THE SUN, 1983
Lead, fibreglass, terracotta and air

HOUSE AND BODY

HOUSE AND BODY, 1985
Terracotta, lead and fibreglass
House: 62 x 78 x 39 cm
Body: 46 x 92 x 38 cm

NIGHT AND DAY

NIGHT AND DAY, 1985
Lead and clay
15 x 308 x 13 cm

MATTER

MATTER, 1985
Lead, plaster, fibreglass, clay and air
54 x 56 x 208 cm