I have been taken gently to task by a correspondent who accuses me of two sins, one of omission and the other of commission - though I am not sure which is which. One concerns my post on Antony Gormley (13 May) and the other, my article on "Myth: Public and Personal" (21 May), though both relate to the work of Antony Gormley.
Did I not realise, John (of Chesterfield) asks, that many of Antony Gormley's figures are cast, not from his own body, but from the bodies of others - mostly friends and volunteers? Well, yes I did and I apologise for the slip, though in truth I had not realised the extent to which he uses others, had I done so I would have noted it in my post, so I suppose that is a slip both of commission and omission. For some installations friends and volunteers have been numbered in the hundreds, I now realise.
The other point is more fundamental, and the reason for this reply. Furthermore, by a remarkable coincidence the same point was made - in a somewhat different form - in an article on Gormley published in last Saturday's Guardian: that the artists of genius who changed art for ever early in the last century and who, in doing so, "gave us" primitive art, took no interest in the cultures from which that art came - and therefore took no interest in the "meaning" of the artifacts from which they lifted what merely took their fancy. In other words, they took no interest in the myths behind the art works that they plundered.
John's contention is that Gormley is pre-eminent among the few who have taken such an interest, who have explored the cultural "meaning" of the artifacts and have found inspiration (and more than inspiration - a driving force) in the belief systems underlying the art. His art is not about "isolation in isolation" (Did I suggest it was?), but about how we live alone and with one another, about society, in other words, and the myths that sustain or threaten it and us. And about the artifacts that carry those myths.
There are points here worthy of further thought and research, I feel.
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Monday, 28 May 2007
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