Sculpture has been practised by every culture throughout the world and stretches back into our distant past. The first surviving shaped stones may even predate the advent of language. Evidently, the desire to carve, mould, bend, chip away, weld, suspend, balance – to transform a vast array of materials and light into new shapes and forms – runs deep in our psyche and is a fundamental part of our human journey and need for expression.
With more than 300 spectacular illustrations, Shaping the World juxtaposes a rich variety of works – from the famous Lowenmensch or Lion Man, c. 35,000 BCE to Michelangelo’s luminous Pietà in Rome, the Terracotta Warriors in China to Rodin’s The Kiss, Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, Olafur Eliasson’s extraordinary Weather Project and Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus, and Tomas Saraceno’s ongoing Aerocene project, as well as examples of Gormley’s own work.
Antony Gormley and Martin Gayford take into account materials and techniques, and consider overarching themes such as light, mortality and our changing world. Above all, they discuss their view of sculpture as a form of physical thinking capable of altering the way people feel, and they invite us to look at sculpture we encounter – and more broadly the world around us – in a completely different way.