Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 11

Antony Gormley
Big Witness, 2013.
Iron cast
€ 400,000 - 700,000

$ 424,000 - 742,000

Big Witness. 2013.
Iron cast.
Unique object. 308 x 63.5 x 45 cm (121.2 x 25 x 17.7 in).
Antony Gormley sees the constantly changing patina as a natural reaction of the material to the weather and other environmental factors. Over the years - as in his famous works in public spaces - a natural, aesthetically particularly attractive, orange-red rust patina emerges, which Gormley intended from the conception and selection of materials and through which he addresses the relationship between people and space, between sculpture and surrounding.

• Suitable for in- and outdoor display.
• From the work group “Big Blockworks” (2012–2017).
• Not only the work itself, but also the orange-red rust patina reflects the essence of Gormley's entire artistic work, his ideas on figure and space in their interaction with external influences.
• His sculptures are in major international museums like Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
• The Musée Rodin in Paris shows the grand solo show “Antony Gormley. Critical Mass” until March 3, 2024.
• The Turner Prize winner is represented by the renowned Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

PROVENANCE: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg.
Private collection North Rhine-Westphalia (acquired from the above in 2013).

"What is iron? Iron is the core of this planet, it's what gives us our magnetic field, it's what gives this planet its specific gravity. For me this is a concentrated earth material and I use it with absolute respect but also purpose [..] to make you aware of everything that you have in terms of freedoms of movement, of existing in time, existing in time in a biological sense, and these objects that are, essentially, industrial fossils, existing in time of a much greater span."
Anthony Gormley, 2022, quoted from: Lehmbruck Museum, January 25, 2023,

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 17.20 h +/- 20 min.

Body and Space
In his sculptures and installations, the British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley has been occupied with the relationship between the human body and its spatial environment for nearly half a century. “I found the body right at the beginning”, explains the artist (A. Gormley, quoted from: Louise Cohen, As I See It, October 19, 2016, For the first works of art that he made in 1973, he wrapped the bodies of his reclined friends in bed sheets soaked in plaster, so that the dried sheet ultimately recreated the volume and outlines of the human bodies as an empty shell. Since then, his entire artistic work has dealt with existential questions through a critical examination of his own body and later also the bodies of other people, which always revolve around the position of humans in relation to nature, space and the cosmos. Gormley's aim is to create artworks in settings that allow observers to contemplate about their existence, their thoughts, actions and feelings. The viewers are crucial for the works, as they evoke different inner states and emotions in each of them, explains the artist: "I want to use material mass and the orthogonal forms of the built environment to evoke internal states. [The sculptures are] incomplete without the subjective witness of the citizen : each work in its different way calls on him/her to simultaneously project and recognize internal affinities in the attitude carried by the block piles.” (A. Gormley, 2019, quoted from: works/exhibitions/stand)

"Angel of the North". Antony Gormley's Works in Public Spaces
For his earlier works, the artist often had his own body cast using a plaster cast, for example for the sculpture installation "Another Place" (1997), which is one of Gormley's best-known works. "Another Place" was created for a joint exhibition of the Cuxhaven Art Association initiated by the Stade Regional Association and was first installed in the German Wadden Sea in 1997 and then in Stavanger in Norway. Since 2005, the installation has been on permanent display at Crosby Beach near Liverpool. Gormley's most famous public work is the monumental steel sculpture "Angel of the North" (1998), a human-like figure with wide wings that, at 20 meters high, is visible from great distances. Near the M1 motorway, it appears to be perched on a small hill overlooking the entire area. With this winged work, located on the site of a former coal mine, Gormley aims to provide the people of this region with a sense of hope in our post-industrial times and to commemorate a past era and the people who endured hard work in the mines over the past 300 years.

In the following, he created installations such as "Clearing" (2004–2019), in which Gormley fills a walk-in space with a narrow, several kilometer long curved aluminum tube, forcing visitors to climb over parts of the installation or to crouch underneath the tube, thus permanently repositioning themselves in relation to the exhibition space. For his exhibition "Blind Light" at the renowned Hayward Gallery in London in 2007, Gormley filled a glass room with thick fog, upon entering, visitors disappeared completely after just a few steps. Like many of Gormley's works, this work questions the way in which humans move through the modern world: often without being aware of our own bodies and surroundings.

The "Big Blockworks" and "Big Witness"
As is the case with his installations and famous works in public spaces, Gormley's abstract sculptures also address the theme of people and space. Based on his earlier works, which he modeled on his own body, the works have become more abstract over the years. The present work is part of the group “Big Blockworks” that the artist began in 2012. The figures, composed of angular cubes, are reminiscent of building blocks stacked on top of each other or oversized physical pixels. But Gormley's key theme of the human, his suggestion of a physical shape, is also recognizable in these works. The bottom cube makes for the feet, while head, shoulders, hips and even the arms can also be discovered in the minimalist, strictly geometric cubic shapes. These shapes are as far from the curved and detailed anatomical limbs of an actual human body as possible, while still showing strong resemblance.

Similar yet even more monumental "Blockworks" works were at the center of the exhibition "STAND" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As in the work offered here, the monumental, abstracted physical forms force the viewer to introspection. Gormley also attests this power, this special ability to his sculptures in particular and to the art of sculpting in general: "I think sculpture is good for those of us who are alive to feel more alive, to sense the brilliant miracle of being and possessing a precious human existence. And I hope that sculpture can in some way concentrate our sense of being, of being alive, of having feeling and thinking powers.” (A. Gormley, quoted from: Lehmbruck Museum, February 13, 2023, /watch?v=el9Jd5iwEt8) Gormley's approach to the change in the patina of his cast iron sculptures, designed for both in- and outdoor display, caused by external influences, weather and environmental factors, also fits in with this idea. Over the years, a natural, aesthetically attractive, orange-red rust patina emerges, which Gormley intended from the conception and selection of materials and which once again addresses the relationship between people and space, between sculpture and surrounding.

Over 30 years of International Recognition
Antony Gormley studied archaeology and art history at Trinity College, University of Cambridge and sculpting at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College in London in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the 1990s, he has been one of the most important contemporary sculptors and his monumental public sculptures in particular have helped the artist to achieve great international renown. He received the prestigious Turner Prize in 1994, the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997 and in 2013, the year in which the work offered here was created, the Japan Art Association's Praemium Imperiale for sculpture. He has been a member of the Royal Academy in London since 2003. In 2014, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. His drawings and sculptures are part of important international museums. This year alone, the British artist has a grand solo exhibitions at the TAG Art Museum in Qingdao (China) and the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg. His comprehensive exhibition “Critial Mass” is on display at Musée Rodin in Paris until March 3, 2024. Previous solo exhibitions include: the Royal Academy of Arts in London (2019), the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2019), the Long Museum in Shanghai (2017), the National Portrait Gallery in London (2016), the Hamburg Deichtorhallen (2012) , the Malmö Konsthall (1993) and the Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk (1989). [CH]

Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right compensation for Antony Gormley "Big Witness"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation, artist‘s resale right compensation is due.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Calculation of artist‘s resale right compensation:
For works by living artists, or by artists who died less than 70 years ago, a artist‘s resale right compensation is levied in accordance with Section 26 UrhG:
4 % of hammer price from 400.00 euros up to 50,000 euros,
another 3 % of the hammer price from 50,000.01 to 200,000 euros,
another 1 % for the part of the sales proceeds from 200,000.01 to 350,000 euros,
another 0.5 % for the part of the sale proceeds from 350,000.01 to 500,000 euros and
another 0.25 % of the hammer price over 500,000 euros.
The maximum total of the resale right fee is EUR 12,500.

The artist‘s resale right compensation is VAT-exempt.