Antony Gormley to become German citizen due to Brexit ‘tragedy’ | Anthony Gormley

The famous British sculptor Antony Gormley will become a German citizen because of the “tragedy” of Brexit.

Speaking at a major retrospective of his work at the Voorlinden Museum near The Hague, Gormley, who is half German, said his strong feelings about Britain’s departure from Europe prompted him to apply for German nationality.

“I’m embarrassed by Brexit: it’s a practical disaster, a betrayal of the sacrifice my parents and grandparents made to make a Europe that was no longer going to be divided. It’s a tragedy,” said the award-winning designer of the Turner Sculpture Prize Angel of the North, at the launch of his exhibition in Wassenaar, the Netherlands.

The 71-year-old artist expected to receive his new passport next month, he said, due to his German mother. Gormley added that he believed many prominent British politicians were not serving the best interests of the country. “Britain has fallen into the hands of selfish people who are not interested in public service but in their personal careers, and that is a shame,” he said.

The sculptor’s decision is the latest in a series of high-profile defections to EU citizenship in protest against Brexit. Artist Cornelia Parker is also about to apply for a German passport.

Like Gormley, the artist is half German and an ardent Remainer. “Brexit affects everything,” she said last month.

“Your freedom of movement, my daughter’s future. I am thinking of applying for German nationality because I am half German. I don’t like feeling like I’m not part of Europe. I don’t want to be a little Englishman.

Art dealers warned last month that Britain’s reputation as a center of commerce was fading, as it was revealed that the country’s share of the global art market had fallen by 3 % last year to hit its lowest point in a decade.

an abstract standing human figure made entirely of rectangular metal blocks of various sizes
One of the giants possibly envisioned for Gormley’s latest project: five huge figures looking out over the UK from France. Photography: Anthony Gormley

Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs and published in this year’s Art Basel/UBS report on the global art market also showed that the value of art and antiques imported into Britain in 2020 had fallen by a third compared to 2019.

Brexit is seen as the main cause of the sharp decline, although the pandemic has also hampered trade. Increased red tape and a new requirement to pay import VAT when transferring artwork from the EU to Britain are major deterrents.

Before Brexit, European artists could bring works for sale free of charge. Now they have to pay a 5% tax.

It is unclear how many art dealers have moved from London as a result, but next summer is expected to be crucial. Some galleries are warning that London will suffer like Paris in the 1960s, when a complicated system of taxes and royalties on art sales caused business to shift to America and Britain.

Gormley made his announcement after discussing plans to create seven ‘Brexit giants’ off the coast of France, a project first described on the eve of Britain’s departure from Europe. The sculptor wants to create a chain of huge iron figures on the coast of Brittany, looking towards Brittany as the lost island of Europe.

The Angel of the North seen in silhouette from behind against a dramatic cloudy sky, with a lone jogger passing on the path below
The Angel of the North, perhaps Gormley’s most famous work. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

Speaking to Dutch reporters, Gormley said he believed this project would be his most important legacy. “I’m talking to the French minister for historical monuments,” he said. “This is my most exciting possibility of a permanent job.”

The sculptures, which must look like abstract iron figures, must rise on an archipelago of islets in the bay of Morlaix in Finistère, near the site of an old funeral cairn.

“It’s for the north coast of Brittany, where one of the largest single cairns is, 11 passage tombs built around 2,700 BC,” Gormley said last week.

“I want to bring an industrial response to these ancient monuments. Whether that happens depends on the money. But I’m very passionate about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.