Hot on the heels of his lauded retrospective at the Royal Academy, which runs until December 3, British artist Antony Gormley’s latest solo show In Formation – which opens today and runs until January 18, 2020 – at White Cube’s nearby Mayfair space focuses on cast-iron works that explore humanity’s relationship to the environment.
For those expecting Gormley’s signature genderless figures, prepare to be happily fulfilled. Here, the focus is on his more recent block works that he calls Aggregates, which resemble the human body made from metal cubes. Human curves are replaced by groups of rusty square blocks that play with ideas around code and information. The largest example of this approach is the giant, blocky sculptural hotel room designed by the artist, which forms part of The Beaumont hotel. The largest works at White Cube are sculptures representing larger-than-life figures leaning against the gallery’s architecture for support. These are built from solid cast-iron blocks weighing between 11 and 700 kilos each.
Gormley has reached a level of recognition for which many artists strive. His breakthrough work was his 1994 Turner Prize-winning installation Field for the British Isles, made from hundreds of small clay figures created by Mexican clay workers. He’s been a Royal Academician since 2003, is a former Trustee of the British Museum and has received honorary doctorates and fellowships from universities from Cambridge to UCL. Gormley was knighted for his services to art in 2014.
The artist’s monumental works pay homage to Michelangelo’s famous quotation on sculpture: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” The show’s title is probably not a nod to Beyoncé’s 2016 pop hit Formation, but Gormley has established himself as an artist who appeals to the public imagination as much as Ms Knowles.