Antony Gormley - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 7, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “The viewer is a part of the picture in this work, relating to this moment of cast stillness seen against the moving water, changing light and seasons and the movement of cars and people. Maybe they can be a catalyst for a certain kind of reverie; a detachment from obligation.”
    —Antony Gormley


    Made from solid cast iron and standing, life-size, silent and still, Turner Prize-winning sculptor Antony Gormley’s 6 Times Left offers a meditative reflection on our relationship to deep time and the natural world. The work derives from Gormley’s series 6 Times, which was originally commissioned by the National Galleries of Scotland in 2009. Comprising six individual figures, each cast directly from the artist’s body with slight variations in their stance, the sculptures, in their Scottish setting, lead viewers on a path from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art down to the sea. These works are still in situ today.


    Emerging from the concrete pavement outside the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, only the head and shoulders of the first sculpture - 6 Times Horizon - can be seen, like an exposed fossil or a relic from another age, encased in layers of sedimentary rock laid down over millennia. 6 Times Left is one of the four works designed to be situated in the Water of Leith, like silent sentinels witnessing the passing of the seasons and the water's ebb and flow.  


    Antony Gormley, 6 Times Left, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh. Image: Andy Catlin / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork: © Antony Gormley

    Although the waterways have since fallen into disuse, they were once a vital artery for Edinburgh’s industrial production and trade, flowing some 24 miles from its source in the Pentland Hills through the city to the Leith docks and out to sea. As Scotland emerged as one of the commercial and industrial centres of the British Empire over the course of the Industrial Revolution, the Water of Leith transformed the valley into the thriving centre of Edinburgh’s production. It provided natural power to the various paper, flour, and textile mills that scattered its banks, as well as supporting a thriving dock and boat-building industry, acknowledged by Gormley with the final figure from the series, 6 Times Horizon, looking out to the Firth of Forth from an abandoned pier in Leith Docks.


    Today, the mills are abandoned, and a diverse selection of flora and fauna proliferate in the protected area, the Water of Leith providing a fascinating record of the exchanges between man-made and natural forces as this landscape has been shaped over time. It is this poignant balance, and a deeper consideration of our identity and place in the social and natural environments we inhabit, that Gormley draws our attention to in 6 Times Left. True to their material, the sculptures bear the marks of the industrial processes involved in their production: the joins of the original plaster mould and certain traces from the casting process remain visible on the roughly finished surface. Just as the forms of the landscape around the Water of Leith have been shaped by the vast passage of time, the Times works also make this concept visible, rust starting its own, imperceptibly slow advances across the surfaces of the figures. As the artist describes: ‘They are simply objects that have been humanly made, but are for imaginative purposes […] liberated from the special condition of the museum and allowed to stand for themselves in the elemental world unprotected, completely unprotected and that bareness of exposure is matched in a way I hope by a bareness that is to do with human vulnerability.’


    Such questions on the relationship of natural and man-made environments, and of our place within them are central to Gormley’s practice, underpinning his major public sculptures and installations, including The Angel in the North and Another Time. Featuring 100 cast iron body-forms, Gormley’s Time Horizon represents one of the artist’s most ambitious large-scale installations to date and will be installed in the grounds of Houghton Hall in Norfolk later this year. Encountering these works provokes questions for the viewer, most simply to do with what the sculpture is doing in such an unexpected place, questions which, implicitly, the work turns back to the viewer creating, in the artist’s own words ‘a kind of circularity.’i 


     Antony Gormley, 6 Times, Scottish National Gallery of Art, Edinburgh


     Collector’s Digest


    • Born in 1950, British sculptor Antony Gormley began creating sculptures cast directly from his own body in 1981. He is particularly well-known for his public sculptures including The Angel of the North in Gateshead from 1998, and Event Horizon (2007-2015), which has been shown in London, São Paolo, and Hong Kong.
    • The present work belongs to the small series 6 Times, commissioned by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art  in 2009, where the works can still be viewed.  
    • The present work and the series to which it belongs are closely related to some of Gormley’s most well-known public installations. The 100 cast iron figures comprising his 2006 Time Horizon will be installed in the grounds of Houghton Hall in Norfolk later this year, the first time that the work has been staged in the United Kingdom.



    i Antony Gormley, quoted in 6 Times, National Galleries of Scotland, 2010.

    • Provenance

      Galleria Continua, Beijing
      Private Collection
      Christie’s, New York, 16 May 2013, lot 592
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Beijing, Galleria Continua, Antony Gormley: Another Singularity, 10 October 2009-28 March 2010, pp. 34-37 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 35-37)
      Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Antony Gormley: 6 Times, 2010 (another example exhibited)
      Archaeological Museum of Delos, Sight: Antony Gormley, 2 May-31 October 2019, pp. 7, 26-29, 183 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 26-29, 183)

    • Literature

      Rachel Spence, ‘Antony Gormley’s haunting sculptures on the Greek island of Delos’, Financial Times, 14 June 2019 (illustrated, online)


6 Times Left

incised with the artist's initials, number, studio reference number and date ‘A.M.D.G. 4/5 2009’ on the underside
cast iron
191 x 59 x 36 cm (75 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 14 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2009, this work is number 4 from an edition of 5 plus 1 artist's proof.

Full Cataloguing

£280,000 - 350,000 ‡♠

Sold for £317,500

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2024