British artist Antony Gormley conquers New York’s Flatiron District with his legion of naked men, inhabiting pathways and sidewalks in and around Madison Square Park and perched on ledges and rooftops of buildings from 14th to 34th streets on Manhattan’s East Side. Cast from the artist’s own lean body in iron and fiberglass, the 31 anatomically correct statues, which make up the installation Event Horizon, literally swarm the park. Finding them is a bit like playing “Where’s Waldo?,” yet once spotted, they bring to mind the angels watching over Berlin in Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire.
Winner of the 1994 Turner Prize, Gormley is celebrated in the UK for his spectacular public art works. His massive Angel of the North sculpture extends its wings high on a hill in Gateshead, while 100 life-size, cast-iron figures in Another Place stretch out into the sea on Crosby Beach. Event Horizon, which marks Gormley’s US public-art debut, was first installed in 2007 on bridges, rooftops, and streets along the South Bank of London’s Thames River. The New York installation, which is supported by its own website with a map, photos, and a video of Gormley discussing the project while scouting locations around Madison Square Park, remains on view through August 15.
Note: Following recent controversy about whether his sculptures looked like jumpers, we asked Gormley to comment. Here’s what he had to say:
“I am confident that New Yorkers and visitors to this city will understand that the figures are works of art. The ambition of Event Horizon is to activate the skyline and to perhaps make people visually aware of their surroundings. Silhouetted against the sky these bodyforms look out into space at large asking: Where does human evolution fit in the scheme of things?”