Contemporary Curated

Contemporary Curated

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 80. ANTONY GORMLEY | MEME CCXXII .

Property From a Distinguished Private Collection, GCC


Auction Closed

November 19, 12:29 PM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property From a Distinguished Private Collection, GCC


b. 1950


incised with the artist's initials and date 2011 on the underside

cast iron

37 by 10.5 by 6 cm. 14½ by 4⅛ by 2¼ in.

Galeria Continua, San Gimignano

Acquired from the above by the present owner

In Antony Gormley’s MEME CCXII, stacked rectangular cast iron blocks articulate, investigate and re-describe the form of the human body in a modular consideration of the human condition. The present work is an exceptional example of the artist’s mastery in adopting the syntax of urban architecture and Euclidean geometry to convey emotion and meaning through formal means. Executed in 2011, the present work forms part of a distinctive series of 33 solid small-scale sculptures begun in 2007. This series exemplifies Gormley’s perennial preoccupation with scale and multiplication as an integral aspect of his working practice. Each work from the captivating MEME group is made up of 27 identical cast-iron blocks, which are skilfully positioned to render various different abstracted states of being that evidence the dramatic effect of minor compositional shifts on the emotive perception of the sculptures. The title of the series borrows a term coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his pivotal book The Selfish Gene, published in 1976. Dawkins defines the ‘meme’ (‘imitated thing’) as the cultural analogue of a gene and uses the term to describe the self-replicating and infinitely mutable dissemination of cultural ideas from one individual to another trough behavioural acts, such as speech or gesture. Gormley emulates this principle in his MEME series, creating sculptural units that propagate cultural information through a multitude of delicately rendered body postures and expressions.

Gormley’s MEME CCXII is monolithic yet dynamic in its subtle structural poise. Rendered in an intimate scale, the present work retains the artist’s characteristic fascination with the relationship between the formal language of architecture and the human figure, as anatomy is replaced by architectonic volumes. Here, Gormley elicits a moment of self-reflection, an emphatic encounter between work and viewer, in which the observer is asked to consciously consider the sculpture in relation to themselves, through the framework of their own physicality.

The human figure has remained the dominant theme in Gormley’s work since the 1980s, and the present work with its bold, striking simplicity of form seamlessly condenses complex theoretical thought into striking sculptural form. MEME CCXII is an outstanding embodiment of Gormley’s idiosyncratic sculptural practice and the sheer physical gravitas of his oeuvre.