Skip to main content

Antony Gormley (United Kingdom)

London, 1950

Firmament III

A constant invitation to visitors to think about our place in the bigger order of things. 

An irregular three-dimensional net surrounds a human-shaped void approximately ten times life size. The sculpture is a matrix in which the viewer as much as the work becomes the object of perception.

Gormley always uses his own body as a starting point. You can take this quite literally: his sculptures are always cast on his own body. But his body is used anonymously.

Firmament is structured according to the principle of the bubble matrix, with a tetrahedral node geometry, which occurs in nature in the carbon atom and in the cellular structure of foam and bubbles. Four elements or edges meet at a 120-degree angle, forming a mass of mainly irregular polygons. This geometry is found in a whole range of natural forms, such as diatom (algae) skeletons and the crystal structure of minerals. It serves here to hold or trap the human body.

The artist is not interested in the aesthetic aspect of the form, but in its human aspect: man as an individual, as a member of the collective and as an object in relation to space and nature.

The title Firmament refers to the vault of the sky, the Latin origin of the word emphasising its firm support of the air. Stars as beacons in space pointing us in the right direction. The nodes within the work likewise form constellations on which body and mind may reflect. Firmament’s silvery reflective filigree picks up the light of the changing seasons and is a constant invitation to visitors to consider their place within the order of things. The donated work will be installed in the oldest section of Middelheim Museum.

With the support of Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.



Number 58 on the map


  • Firmament III
  • 2009
  • h 381 cm x w 1094 cm x d 697 cm
  • Stainless steel elements
  • MIDW545

More information about this highlight