29 August 2010

Gormley’s Exposure – Art or Just Bare Faced Cheek?

Anthony Gormley’s latest mammoth sculpture, Exposure which is to be unveiled formally in September, has opinion divided.  Nothing particularly new there, you might say.  Yet Exposure, weighing in at sixty tonnes, twenty six meters (85 feet) in height and poised rather delicately in a crouching position is causing something of a ruckus in the Netherlands, where it has been assembled.

It is customary, these days, to nickname any new gargantuan work of art and this has certainly been the case with Exposure.  One rather unimpressed resident of the nearby town of Lelystad quickly christened Exposure as de poepende man and the name has caught on.  It doesn’t even loosely translate as sitting, but if you put an h after the first consonant you get the picture.  The rather more polite element of Dutch society uses the word hurkende – which means crouching.  Either way, there is no doubt whether or not the locals have formed an idea about which specific function our latest friendly giant is performing.

This aside, the fact Exposure is now fully squatting in position is something of a triumph for Anthony Gormley.  The project has taken almost six years to bear fruit, with a number of setbacks on the way, including what can only be described as a constipation of funds and numerous technical difficulties. The fact that the sculpture will be formally unveiled on 17 September belies the complexity of its erection which might have proven too much for lesser artists to even consider, let alone see a project of this enormity to its end.

If you stood next to this gargantuan structure you would be at the same level as its feet (you might want to watch where you stand, metaphorically at least)  – and there are almost six thousand bolts holding the 2,000 component sculpture together. If the sculpture were to come alive, complete the deed and then stand up, he would be over 100 meters high.

Gormley first cast himself in plaster and then, combining art with math, translated his own form in to a geometric model, using sophisticated software.  The metal parts which make up Exposure were made by a pylon manufacturer in the UK and transported to the Netherlands. Whether or not the end product is as sophisticated as the execution of the design is for you to decide.

Kuriositas would like to very gratefully acknowledge Flickr User Herman Verheij who kindly gave permission for us to use his marvellous pictures of Exposure (the first four).  Please pay a visit to his marvellous photostream.