British sculptor's cast-iron humans conquer Austrian Alps

British sculptor Antony Gormley has stood 100 life-size human figures in the Austrian Alps in an new installation spread across kilometres that officially opened Saturday.

Gormley has placed the solid cast-iron figures, each weighing 640 kilogrammes (1,408 pounds), in rugged mountains close to the lake city of Bregenz in western Austria in a work called "Horizon Field".

The figures stand from dozens of metres to a few kilometres apart from each other, but always at an altitude of 2,039 metres (6,689 feet) above sea level.

The height was chosen because "it is readily accessible but, at the same time, lies beyond the realm of everyday life," according to the Bregenz Museum that organised the exhibition that runs until April 2012.

"The Horizon Field asks: where does the human project fit within the evolution of life on this planet?" Gormley says on his website (www.antonygormley.com).

"This installation recognises the deep connection between social and geographic territory; between landscape and memory," he says.

The figures stand over an area of 150 square kilometres, some in places people could walk or ski past and others inaccessible but visible from certain vantage points.

Gormley, one of Britain's top contemporary sculptors, is perhaps best known for his giant, steel "Angel of the North" that stands 20 metres tall in northern England.

His life-size human forms have peopled the beaches of Cuxhaven in northern Germany in 1997 in a work called "Another Place", as well as Crosby beach close to Liverpool and the skylines of London and New York.

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