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April 20, 2015

Antony Gormley’s New Plan for Forte Belvedere

From April 26 to September 27, in Florence

One hundred human figures on a 1:1 scale will populate the building, ramparts, staircases, terraces and all the sides of Forte Belvedere, with its peculiar view over the city and the hills: after reopening in 2013 with the exhibition dedicated to Zhang Huan and the success the individual exhibition dedicated to Giuseppe Penone in 2014, Florence will host, from 26 April 2015, the works of Antony Gormley, one of the most celebrated living sculptors.

For the exhibition, entitled Antony Gormley. Human and curated by Arabella Natalini and Sergio Risaliti, the sculptor has planned a dispersed and persuasive presence, with works that can bring new life to the old spaces of the Forte. On display, in addition to the hundred human-scale figures, the large Critical Mass installation, an “anti-monument that evokes all the victims of the twentieth century”.

Originally designed in 1995 for an old tram depot in Vienna, it not only recalls some of the dramatic moments in the history of the Austrian capital, it was also the artist’s “way of bringing life to the entire building and destabilising the architectural context”.

This destabilising and thought-provoking effect finds its perfect location in Forte Belvedere, which was originally built as a defensive structure and is now representing itself as enriched with a new link to the Italian context.

In Florence, the Critical Mass figures will dialectically come face to face with Blockworks, previously unseen figures that the reveal human anatomy through architectural volumes. In this new cycle of works, the body remains the starting point of the work of Gormley. However, they are no longer replaced by silicon casts, but by a digital scan that is then reworked on the computer. As the artist himself said, when talking about the project in Florence, “The Forte is an extraordinary example of terraforming: a natural hill transformed by Ferdinando de’ Medici into an artefact. It has a long association with contemporary art and has often been used as a monumental context for monumental works.

Rather than attempt to insert works that try to match the scale of the site, I have chosen to exhibit works that will allow the mass and form of this remarkable construction to speak...”. “[...] Human opens up the Forte through sculptural acupuncture: the works are widely dispersed to catalyse the inherent masses, constrictions and panoramas that the site affords. In finding the right places to create stumbling blocks and opportunities to stop the viewer in their tracks, I want to encourage the viewer to think again about who they are and how they negotiate the spaces around them”.


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