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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more BIDDING FOR A GREENER FUTURE: PROPERTY SOLD TO BENEFIT CLIENTEARTH


cast iron
79 3⁄4 x 20 1⁄8 x 14 3⁄4in. (202.5 x 51 x 37cm.)
Executed in 2016
Donated by the artist and White Cube.
Hong Kong, White Cube, Rooting the Synapse, 2018, p. 24 and 77 (illustrated in colour, p. 25).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Evening Sale, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Root (2016) has been generously donated by Antony Gormley and White Cube as the part of the ongoing sale series Artists for ClientEarth: a landmark new collaborative initiative designed to propel the art world in the fight against climate change. ClientEarth approach the climate crisis in a systemic and unique way: challenging the worst-offending industries, advising governments on policy, and working globally to safeguard citizens’ access to the laws that defend them. The Gallery Climate Coalition and Christie’s have come together with ClientEarth to raise money, awareness and support from the art world for this essential work through the Artists for ClientEarth initiative.

The sale of Gormley’s Root follows works by Cecily Brown, Rashid Johnson and Xie Nanxing auctioned at Christie’s London, New York and Hong Kong last year. Further works by Beatriz Milhazes and others will be offered in upcoming seasons, generously donated by the artists and their galleries to raise funds directly in support of ClientEarth. A parallel programme of talks and education will provide collectors and art-world professionals access to the vital work that ClientEarth undertakes to create systemic change to protect the planet.


Simultaneously resembling tree roots, an aerial and an inverted human form, the present work vividly evokes ClientEarth’s central theme: namely, the interaction between the natural and man-made worlds. Standing two metres in height, it belongs to Gormley’s series of Rooters, which explore the relationship between botanical and human anatomy. Rendered from iron—the Earth’s core material—the work conjures a plant-like system of antennae, tendrils and branches, which proliferate into a bodily structure. The series, begun in 2016, drew inspiration from Goethe’s Metamorphosis of Plants, who compared the human body to a tree planted in the sky, and the brain to a seed that spawns the central nervous system. Root speaks clearly to this analogy: the tendrils of each limb seem to push beyond the body’s boundaries into the surrounding space, as though they might continue to grow indefinitely.

The Rooters take their place within a sculptural practice that, since the 1980s, has sought to capture how the human body exists in relation to its surroundings. Abstracted to a series of lines and geometric forms, Gormley’s creations strive to capture the energy and tension that upholds the human frame, inviting the viewer in turn to reflect upon the sensation of inhabiting their own body. Works such as the present are not static monoliths, but rather dynamic objects that come alive in their interaction with the world. Here, this idea is reflected in the casting process, where the feeding and rising systems of the metal casting process determines how far metal can travel within its sand mould before it solidifies. The passage of light in and around the branch-like forms imbues the work with life and motion, while the dual processes of aerobic and anaerobic oxidisation inscribe the passage of time upon its surface. The patterns of nature have long inspired artists—from the painters of Chinese antiquity to Gustav Klimt and Piet Mondrian. In Root, Gormley weaves a poignant vision of the human condition: eternally suspended between order and chaos, nature and structure.    

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