The implications of Antony Gormley

Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yesterday I attended a fascinating evening at Antony Gormley's London studio, where the kreutzer quartet played passionately some rich and evocative music by my old friend Jim Aitchison.

Looking around Gormley's studio was fascinating - there were plenty of his body casts lying around, and a number of his more recent works that build shapes (often body-related) out of thousands of repeated patterns, like this:

Birtwistle used to sometimes look at a work of art and ask 'What is the musical equivalent of that?' I think Jim went beyond that, using the ideas and structures of the works to inspire his music, and a fascinating response it was. But I couldn't help also returning to Birtwistle's question. What would a piece of music sound like that was so clear and simple in form, yet so new and original, and so thought-provoking. Perhaps Ligeti came somewhere close.

I browsed Gormley's website and came across an article mentioning Gormley's 1993 work Field:

What Gormley says about this work is fascinating, especially if you reflect it back on the music world:

"It came out of a personal crisis. I went back to first principals and started over. I felt the romantic view of the artist as someone standing apart from and remaking the world, was no longer tenable. It was a betrayal of what art could do. Art is nothing without being experienced and shared. And I wanted to start again on that basis".

"In the heroic story of Modernism, artists thought they were emancipating the tools of art from the strictures of representation, making something that could be everyone's. Instead, they ended up being implicated in the institutionalisation of modernity. I think the greatest thing we can try to do now is to take the freedom that art gained in the 20th century and offer it back to the viewer, to make work that really can be everyone's."



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