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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Antony Gormley
ANGEL OF THE NORTH
Estimate
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UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Omega
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the standard rate
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,860,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
10

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Antony Gormley
ANGEL OF THE NORTH
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Omega
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the standard rate
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,500,0002,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,860,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Antony Gormley
B. 1950
ANGEL OF THE NORTH
signed with the artist's initials, dated 1997 and numbered 6/12 on the underside of the base
bronze
96.5 by 262.9 by 20.3 cm. 38 by 103 1/2 by 8 in.
Executed in 1997, this work is number 6 from an edition of 12, plus 1 artist's proof.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

White Cube, London

Private Collection, USA (acquired from the above)

Sotheby's, New York, 15 May 2014, Lot 445 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Literature

Michael Mack, Ed., Antony Gormley, Göttingen 2007, p. 515, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North is a Great British icon. Sublime and fundamentally epic, the sculpture forges a union between earthly corporeality and immortality made manifest. The world-renowned Angel of the North in Gateshead in Northern England, the largest public sculpture in the United Kingdom when it was erected in 1997, is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the UK. Its related sculptures, executed in more domestic scales, share the same phenomenal appeal that lies in the universality of this extraordinary sculpture. By translating an emblem of religious iconography into a new icon for our contemporary era, Gormley has created a transcendental entity that stands for something greater than the sum of its construction. 

The vertical element of the Angel was originally cast from the artist himself, providing the template for the form of the present work. Whereas the Gateshead monolith increases the human scale by a factor of ten, this sculpture cuts it in half. Both are braced together by an architectural matrix of girder-like ribs that evoke the wooden struts and structure of an early biplane. The artist considers the airplane as a symbol that represents the restlessness of the human spirit and that also provides a perspective on earth that was formerly reserved for God. Thus his sculpture combines human and aeronautic anatomy to encapsulate the relationship between humankind and technology that characterizes our era: "the use of aeroplane wings is appropriate for a work that attempts to bear witness to our time" (Antony Gormley, Making an Angel, London 1998, p. 15).

Tension between the earthly and supernatural is epitomised by the work's material. Through history the angel has been rendered in the noble matter of virgin marble or polished gold, whereas this celestial being is cast in unpolished bronze, evoking the iron ore of the earth's crust. Referring to the material of the Gateshead Angel Gormley has gone even further: "it comes out of the closed body of the earth. It is made of iron, a concentrated earth material that carries the colour of blood. It is a carrier of the new nature: a body extended by technology, yet actually and metaphorically rooted in the earth and the compressed geology of shale and carbon that lies there" (Ibid.). Thus this angel consists of both material and form that sooner evoke an industrial plant or some aeronautical apparatus than the idealised musculature of a heroic saint or the chaste flesh of an innocent cherub. Gormley inverts the viewer's expectation about what an angel should be and creates a winged presence that is relevant to the evolving perspectives of a new millennium. 

This sculpture is integral to the immense collaborative effort that resulted in the Angel of the North, an artwork that undoubtedly stands alongside the Statue of Liberty and Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer as one of the world's greatest sculptural achievements. The most conclusive appraisal of the Gateshead monument is fittingly provided by the artist himself: "more than any other work that I have been involved with, the Angel exhibits sculpture's ability to endure. The work will stand through rain and shine, night and day, in storms and calm. With the ability to endure comes the possibility that it should stand for our own need to endure vicissitudes. Then there are sculpture's other constant duties which the Angel has and will shoulder: witnessing and marking in time and space, taking now into then, being a focus for life and its dreams. Our dreams" (Ibid., p. 14). 

For Gormley therefore, the Angel stands for something greater, embodying themes that will outlive even the hardiest of earthly material. Although the Gateshead Angel of the North is characterised by a physical monumentality, it is defined by a monumentality of spirit. Standing adjacent to the main road from London to Edinburgh, the primary reason for its twenty meter height and fifty-four meter wingspan is to facilitate maximum visibility for miles around. Although it stands like a protector over Gateshead and receives visitors to its base, it was primarily conceived to be seen by a travelling vehicle-based audience estimated at over 90,000 people per day. Scale has become important to the work because of its site, but in Gormley's broader vision, scale is entirely subsidiary to the Angel's iconic form. Unlike the Gateshead work the present sculpture affords an intimate contemplation of the same values that are at the very heart of Gormley's practice; enshrining form, space, memory and spirituality within its cast bronze sarcophagus. Both personal and immediate, this Angel confronts us individually, rather than collectively, yet finally fulfils the artist's promise to inspire endurance and act as a guardian of our dreams.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London