Modern public artworks are 'crap', says Gormley. This is how it should be done

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Antony Gormley made his name as the creator of grand sculptures with his monumental Angel of the North. So it may surprise many artists attempting to emulate his success to hear that he has condemned the current crop of modern public artworks across the UK as "crap".

"On the whole," he said, "We have not reinvented the statue very convincingly for the 21st century," adding "There is an awful lot of crap out there."

A decade after his experimental 65ft-high figure was erected in Gateshead, Gormley said the success of the sculpture had inadvertently set a precedent for the proliferation of unchallenging works of art in public spaces.

He singled out The Meeting Place statue of two lovers embracing at St Pancras International Station for criticism. Other works he dislikes are a statue of Churchill and Roosevelt on Bond Street and David Wynne's Boy With a Dolphin in Chelsea.

He went on: "I don't like the way the Angel of the North has been used for some kind of precedent to encourage people and local authorities looking for European funding or investment. When we made the Angel, it was an experiment. We managed to get lottery money and European funding but it was a huge risk."

To many, Gormley, who is currently on a shortlist for creating a sculpture for the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square, is the most prominent producer of public art alive in Britain today. Aside from the Angel sculpture of 1998, he also produced Another Place for Crosby Beach near Liverpool and Iron:Man, placed in Birmingham's Victoria Square.

He said it was not the quantity of public artworks in Britain that offended him but the prevailing lack of creativity.

"So much of the art of the 20th century has ended up being corralled into museums. I would love to see more significant work in public spaces that is not institutionalised – work that is truly everyone's. There are works that really challenge you that maybe you don't understand at first but you keep going back to see them because they niggle. But art placed in public spaces that does not challenge does a disservice.

"A lot of public art is gunge, an excuse which says, 'we're terribly sorry to have built this senseless glass and steel tower but here is this 20-foot bronze cat'," he said.

The artist also felt that Britain needed a proper structure to shortlist and judge commissions, similar to that currently in place in Germany and Holland, which he claimed have greater forms of quality control for a commissioned piece of public art.

"Here, the standards are very low [for] the way submissions are judged," he said.

Gormley's outspoken comments came as he unveiled an indoor sculptural piece, Lost Horizon, priced at £1.35m and displayed at White Cube Gallery in Mason's Yard, London. It follows last year's public art project 'Event Horizon', which he did with the Hayward Gallery, in which he placed several statues modelled on his own body on buildings around central London.

Another new work, Firmament, priced at £850,000, is a geometrical structure based on the human body and could also be suitable for outdoor display.

The artist joins a long-running debate on the value of public art which was reinvigorated by Marjorie Trusted, senior curator of sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, who said many commissions were "disappointing, old-fashioned and awkward" while Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's Museum in London, dismissed them as "horrors".

Is Gormley right? Share your views at independent.co.uk/gormley

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home