April 26–September 27, 2015
Forte di Belvedere, Florence – Italy
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–8pm, Free entrance
Through September 27, 2015, Florence is hosting, HUMAN, an exhibition and installation of work by Antony Gormley, one of the most acclaimed sculptors working today. Curated by Sergio Risaliti and Arabella Natalini, HUMAN brings together over 100 works by Gormley in the inner rooms of the Forte di Belvedere inside the villa, around the bastions, the staircases and the terraces, to occupy every side of the 16th-century fortress with its extraordinary views over the city and the surrounding hills.
The exhibition includes the artist’s seminal installation Critical Mass, an “anti-monument evoking all the victims of the 20th century.” The work was originally conceived for a disused tram depot in Vienna in 1995, to “activate the whole building and make it a site of reflection on the dark side of German history.” On view on the lower terrace of the Forte, Critical Mass acquires a new potency in relation to a Renaissance city, the history of humanism and the continuing and ever-present relationship between money, militarism and power. Gormley states:
“On the lower terrace, twelve body forms are installed in a linear progression, from fetal to stargazing positions, recalling the ‘ascent of man’. Opposite, on the western side, is a jumbled pile of the same bodies. Here, abandoned manufactured iron objects, each ten times the specific gravity of a living human body, reflect the shadow side of any idea of human progress, confronting the viewer with an image redolent of the conflict of the past century. This dialectic between aspirational and abject is the tension that runs throughout the exhibition.”
The more naturalistic figures of Critical Mass, derived from molds taken directly from the artist’s body, are in dialogue with recent works collectively known as “Blockworks,” which reveal human anatomy through architectural volumes. Each sculpture is positioned to resonate with the scale and mass of the Forte.
This major exhibition, in which the human figure is redefined, finds a natural home in Florence, the city in which, in the 15th and 16th centuries, artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo, Baccio Bandinelli and Cellini devoted their energies to studying the depiction of the ideal man in relation to architecture. Human renews and confirms the city’s determination to embrace the present, seeking a crucial interaction between the Florence of the Renaissance and the city of today, in a close dialogue between sculpture and new ways of conceiving man’s environment.
Antony Gormley (b.1950, London) has widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally and is acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honors list in 2014.
Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. In conjunction with the artist’s latest exhibition, HUMAN. Antony Gormley at the Forte di Belvedere, Museo Novecento presents documentaries which explore the artist’s life and practice.
July 7, August 11, September 15 at 5.30 pm
Film by Morag Tinto, 2014
Produced by BBC
The BBC follow the Antony Gormley and his team in their busy Kings Cross studio, preparing a new work called Expansion Field – a group of 60 enormous steel sculptures to be shown together at the Zentrum Paul Klee museum in Bern. Reflecting on the ideas behind his sculptures, the collaborative nature of his studio and the excitement he still feels as new projects come together, the film offers an intimate and fascinating insight into the artist’s practice.
In conjunction with the exhibition HUMAN. Antony Gormley, the Museo Novecento presents a series of lectures involving international guests and focusing on the use and the representation of the human body in the artistic researches from the twentieth Century to the present day.
A lecture by Andrew Benjamin with The British Institute of Florence
Wednesday, July 8 at 5.30pm, free entrance
Sculpture from the Greeks onwards has been concerned with the presentation of the human body. The body was given both an ideal form and a particular form. However the possibility of the ‘ideal’ created an essential part of the history of sculpture. Even the Laocoön was understood as expressing the appropriate form of grief. It was structured by a sense of the ideal. This lecture will situate Antony Gormley’s Human within the context of the history of the sculptured body. The lecture will argue that Gormley’s work in reworking the body is also a deconstruction of any idealization of the body.
Andrew Benjamin is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Monash University, Melbourne and of Philosophy and the Humanities at Kingston University in London. His recent books include Art’s Philosophical Work. Rowman and Littlefield International (2015), Towards A Relational Ontology. Philosophy’s Other Possibility ( 2015); Working with Walter Benjamin. Recovering a Political Philosophy (2013).
In collaboration with the British Institute Florence.
The lecture will be held in English. Free entrance while seats last.
Complesso dello Spedale delle Leopoldine
Piazza Santa Maria Novella 10, Florence – ITALY