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Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London

Antony Gormley
B.1950
MEME CXLIII
signed with initials, numbered and dated 2011
cast iron
29.5 by 43 by 4.5cm.; 11½ by 17 by 1¾in.
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Provenance

Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, where acquired by the present owners

Catalogue Note

The present work is from a series of the artist’s diminutive of sculptures begun in 2007, the Memes. These are compact, solid cast iron works, which, in characteristic fashion for the artist, combine formal artistic vocabulary and architectural forms to compartmentalise, distill and analyse the human condition. The series displays a range of body postures: each of the 33 individual works in the series are made up of 27 identical iron blocks in a unique configuration to provide the composition of the figure and provide a separate pose, displaying recognisable human emotional states. The series therefore represents both a geometric game, exploring a number of possibilities through reconfiguration, and also an investigation into humanity.


The title of the series is taken from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ theory on genetics, in which he coined the term ‘memes’ on the basis of genes. Dawkins used the term to describe the dissemination of cultural ideas and beliefs that are transmitted in thought or behaviour from one body to another, each responding to conditional environments, self-replicating and capable of mutation. Antony Gormley’s complete series of Memes was first shown at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Australia in 2011. Placed directly on the floor and widely spaced, the lexicon of body postures and possible expressions displayed in the Memes invited the viewer to become conscious, through the disparity of scale, of his or her own physical and emotional relationship to the work. When considered collectively we become aware of a sense of communication and dialogue; however, when viewed as a set of individual forms this message becomes one of dislocation and isolation, embodying a divided society.

Gormley’s Memes force the viewer to question what a shift in the position of the blocks might represent; how small re-figurations of form can elicit strong emotional responses from the viewer to a small, made object; and how we come to recognise varying physical states as they stand tall or cower from some unseen terror. The artist invites us to view them both collectively and individually in relation to their surroundings, all the while allowing us to enjoy the charm and range of personalities enjoying the very human personalities that they embody.

Modern & Post-War British Art

|
London