In the summer of 2022, Antony Gormley (1950) will take over the museum and estate of Voorlinden. The British artist is renowned worldwide for his sculptures, installations and public works that explore the relationship between the human body and the space around us. The major retrospective exhibition GROUND brings together work spanning Gormley’s career, from his early lead sculptures from the 1980s to recent large-scale installations, and can be seen from 26 May to 25 September 2022.
Gormley approaches the age-old subject of the human body in his own unique, yet universal and philosophical way, building on art history and conceptual sculpture of the 1960s and 1970s. GROUND will be one of the most ambitious exhibitions in the museum’s history, the first to occupy both the museum and the estate of Voorlinden. ‘As a museum, we want to do everything we can to offer Antony Gormley the stage he deserves’, says director Suzanne Swarts.
Antony Gormley: ‘Sculpture is no longer a medium of memorial and idealisation but a context in which human being can be examined. Sculpture is no longer representational: it is an instrument of investigation and questioning. I have called this exhibition GROUND to make this open invitation of sculpture clear. Without the viewer there is no show, without the gallery there is no context. The joy of this kind of exhibition is to allow the richness of the context itself to become activated by sculpture. For me, the body of the viewer is often the activating principle in a ‘ground’ of contemplation: the works become catalysts for awareness and grounds for physical and imaginative inhabitation.’
The exhibition includes Passage, a 12-metre-long steel work on display for the first time in the Netherlands. Inside the sculpture, one travels through darkness into the unknown. The expansive work Breathing Room, in which you can experience standing in a three-dimensional drawing in the space, will also be shown. Extending outside, Critical Mass puts sculpture in dialogue with the museum’s extensive grounds: 60 solid cast iron bodyforms will be placed in relation with the trees, lawns, canals and reedbeds of the park. Gormley sees these ‘capturings’ of basic body positions as ‘industrially made fossils dropped into the Voorlinden’s verdant context, calling on embedded body-memory and our potential for feeling’.
Director Suzanne Swarts: ‘Antony is one of those rare artists who has built up a timeless oeuvre with a universal visual language, yet very own signature. For four decades, he has been making sculptures that are dear to people from all over the world. For him, sculpture and the human body are the starting point for an endless cosmological investigation that concerns, touches and encourages us all to reflect.’
Gormley and Voorlinden
Antony Gormley is well known for his works in the public realm, including the iconic Angel of the North in Gateshead in Northern England and his crouching body form Exposure near Lelystad in the Netherlands. Voorlinden has a long and close relationship with Gormley, who in 1994 made a sculpture for the Clingenbosch sculpture garden. The collection now has twelve works by Gormley.
Suzanne Swarts: ‘In these times of distancing, we realize all the more that the power of visual art lies in its physical presence and tangibility. You have to relate to art to understand and to be able to experience it. Antony’s oeuvre − like no other − questions the space we take up as humans. We can’t wait to experience Antony’s exhibition GROUND in 2022.’