Site Specific Artist Antony Gormley
Philadelphia museum of art
The strand by Antony Gormley consists of ten cast iron statues upon first appearance seems to be very blocky. This reminds me of the old-style video games where squares were used to create the characters know as pixels. I find this style of sculpture in matching with the building’s own external walls in size and shape. The figures stand at ten feet and each weigh almost three tons.
The figures have their own different pose and whilst I was looking over them it triggered my brain to try and decipher the art work as I tried to work out what the poses reflected to myself. Philadelphia museum of art has become a major landmark in its own right without even being considered a museum which was once joked about in the rocky movies, as in Rocky we see Sylvester Stallone run these steps and when finally reaching the top he celebrates symbolising he has achieved the impossible no matter what the outcome of the fight maybe.
In later films in the Rocky franchise he climbs the stairs with his son and is informed by his son it is a museum and they should go inside. This iconic footage has resonated for over forty years in movie culture and brought millions of tourists to Philadelphia solely to run those steps.
I would love to put the question to Antony that “Are any of the poses a direct link to the rocky movie?” as I feel they have a very roman philosopher to gladiator feel in their expressions with the strong lines and hard body build up.
Capturing an audience on these famous steps must have come with its own challenges, Anthony has gone on to state that;
public art did little to improve the nature and quality of collective space, which was being challenged primarily by cars and advertisements. the figures, overlooking the steps of the Philadelphia museum of art, are both ‘outside’ an institution and ‘with’ an institution. the work mediates the high cultural values represented by the historic building with the true social context of the streets of the city. regardless of their fore frontal position, the sculptures do not represent figural idealization, but self-reflection. the artist notes that the installation invites engagement from people who would perhaps never enter the museum itself.
Using iron Antony wanted to get the point across that if we dig down 2000 kilometres to the core, we will find this material and it will be at the same temperature as above the surface yet has a completely different form that takes it away from fine art association. He looks upon this as we have been using iron and coal as a blessing in the industrial revolution to help build a better future, but also that we haven’t evolved onto better ideas during the information age.
Gormley wants these pieces to help people get in a transitive human state or even open to the idea of them being able to become an open ground for psychic projection. In hoping it will help the viewer see things from enforcing hierarchies of power, mythologies of race, place and nation.
Whatever Antony hoped to achieve within this piece I feel its positioning and design works extremely well within its area, welcoming people to the museum first of all but also engaging those outside who may never wanted to venture into the building until these works sparked a response by just being in the public domain. The work can be admired as the general public go about their daily tasks, of commuting to work and school on a daily basis.
The rustic feel of this piece resonated with my own work as I was trying to replicate a metal structure, but I wanted it to be seen more as a symbolic piece of art work. The scale and design although simplistic in its design hopefully tries to explain itself within a visual point of view. Whomever would look over my work would hopefully see it as something different from other viewers, allowing it to spark an interest even if it’s a dislike to the piece of work. In doing so I would have managed to create something that’s makes you stop and think about it even if it’s just for a moment of time.