Shrive II


United Kingdom born 1950
Cast Iron (unique cast)

Antony Gormley is celebrated internationally for his colossal Angel of the North – a totemic standing figure with vast, outstretched arms like aircraft wings – installed in 1998 on a hilltop near Gateshead in England. As with Angel of the North, most of Gormley’s sculptures are schematic variations on the human form, often based on the sculptor’s own body.

In placing the human figure at the core of his practice, Gormley speculates on the ways we comprehend human presence in the world about us. He creates individual figures such as Shrive II as well as installations of multiple figures deployed hauntingly throughout landscapes or in marine and urban settings.

The artist interprets the human body not so much as an autonomous form, but rather to signify ‘a place’ or ‘enclosed space’ and to evoke sensations common to all human experience. As he says, his work is ‘not symbolic but indexical – a trace of a real event of a real body in time’. He imagines different human behaviours, emotions and thoughts.

Shrive II is from a series titled Ataxia, a word derived from the Greek and referring to a sense of disorientation or ‘struggle between order and disorder … between symmetry and asymmetry’. These works are composed of a matrix of cast iron blocks that recall both architectural elements and human bodies in different attitudes designated by the artist as: TURN, SPLICE, SHRIVE, SHY, LIST, CLUTCH and HAFT.

Gormley won the famous Turner Prize in 1994 and, subsequently, gained numerous other prestigious academic and artistic accolades. Awarded an OBE in 1997, he was knighted in 2014. Such is his contribution to cultural debate globally and advocacy in general, that in 2008 The Daily Telegraph ranked him at number 4 on their list of the ‘100 most powerful people in British culture’.

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