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Antony Gormley
Critical Mass

17 October 2023—3 March 2024
Musée Rodin, Paris, France

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This autumn, the Musée Rodin welcomes British artist Antony Gormley. For over forty years, Gormley has explored the relationship of the human body to space through a critical engagement with his own body and, more recently, through examining the relationship of the body to the built environment. Titled Critical Mass, this exhibition at the Musée Rodin will activate all areas of the museum, including the temporary exhibition space, gardens, Marble Galerie and Hotel Biron. Key works from across Gormley’s career will enter into dialogue with Rodin’s own sculptures, inviting visitors to reflect on the two sculptors and their shared investment in asking what the body offers sculpture as a subject, object and reflexive tool.

At the centre of this exhibition is Critical Mass II (1995), an installation comprising sixty life-sized sculptures that punctuate the museum’s temporary exhibition space and garden. In this major work, the artist isolates twelve fundamental positions unique to the human body, casts each five times and then places them in different configurations, sometimes to contradictory and absurd effect. Crawling, squatting, kneeling and standing, the installation will unfold in the garden with a line of the twelve positions that ends at Rodin’s The Gates of Hell. Inside, a dense cluster of cast iron bodies piled in a heap will look as if they have been toppled onto the ground. Other bodies will be pressed against walls and hang suspended from the ceiling. For Gormley, ‘the work references the materiality of sculpture and our dependency on the materiality of the body, both being subject to position, context and jeopardy’.

In addition to Critical Mass II, six of Gormley’s ‘Insider’ works will populate the Marble Galerie and four carefully chosen sculptures will be placed alongside Rodin’s masterpieces in the permanent exhibition rooms of Hotel Biron. The interaction between Gormley’s and Rodin’s work will question and disturb our existing assumptions about sculpture and its relation to the body. The exhibition will also offer a fascinating insight into Gormley’s working methods and collaborative approach to making sculpture, a thread which can be traced back to Rodin’s own studio and its mode of collective production. A series of working models will be placed alongside Rodin’s own maquettes, while a life-size plaster mould can be seen by Study for Balzac’s Dressing Gown to acknowledge how both artists have used moulds and plaster as sources of new possibility. Over two hundred of Gormley’s workbooks will also be on view, revealing forty years’ worth of ideas, reflections and drawings.