And Soul

In his 1990 Body And Soul print portfolio, Antony Gormley delves into the complexities of human existence, and our place in the universe through a series of nine intricate and thought-provoking etchings, each produced in an edition of 30. Through his exploration of the body's physical and spiritual dimensions, Gormley challenges viewers to reflect on the nature of their own being.

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Meaning & Analysis

Antony Gormley's Body And Soul print portfolio offers a captivating, introspective and thought-provoking exploration of the human condition. Comprising nine etchings executed in black and white, the portfolio contains, among other things: images of fingerprints, kiss imprints, ear prints, and planet Earth seen from space. By this assembly of motifs, it is apparent that Gormley explores the intricate relationship between the individual experience of living and the vast dimensions of the universe.

Gormley's imprints of hands, ears and mouth are suggestive of the body's engagement with the external world through the senses, but also of the interpersonal intimacy experienced between bodies. The delicate nature of Body And Soul 1, is particularly expressive of love and intimacy: it features the impression of a kiss in white, against a black background. The white that forms the inside of the mouth is suggestive of the heat of a kiss, while the obliterative black that surrounds the kiss evokes a state of ecstatic consumption.

Within the Body And Soul series Gormley also premises the fragility of the bodily experience. He does so, not only in the delicate nature of each motif, figured minutely and centrally on a much larger background, but also as he includes a print of the infamous Blue Marble photograph, which shows the earth from outer space. This photograph is highly significant source material: the iconic Blue Marble image was taken on December 7, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission by the crew of NASA's Apollo spacecraft. Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt were positioned approximately 28,000 miles away from Earth when they captured this remarkable image. The photo depicted our planet in its entirety, suspended in the vastness of space, with its stunning blue hue dominating the frame. This awe-inspiring image provided humanity with a profound visual representation of Earth's fragility and interconnectedness. It served as a powerful catalyst, prompting a paradigm shift in our global perspective on the human condition and the universe. The Blue Marble photo highlighted the shared vulnerability of our planet and underscored the need for environmental conservation, cooperation, and a deeper appreciation for our place in the cosmos. It continues to remind us of our collective responsibility to protect and cherish the fragile oasis we call home. Thus, viewers are prompted to reflect on their own mortality, the passage of time, and the transient nature of human existence.

One of Antony Gormley's key strengths as an artist is his ability to evoke emotions and provoke deep contemplation; this portfolio is exemplary in that regard. His artworks elicit a range of feelings, from vulnerability to strength, from isolation to interconnectedness. Gormley's portrayal of the human figure becomes a mirror for viewers' own emotions and experiences, creating a space for self-reflection and empathy. In conclusion, Antony Gormley's Body And Soul print portfolio is a compelling exploration of the human experience. It serves as a catalyst for introspection, challenging viewers to reflect on their own existence and find connections to the universal aspects of humanity.

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