Sculpting the Cityscape: Londoners Feast Their Eyes on Naked Men

The British artist Antony Gormley is a master at creating eye-catching public art. His latest project involves placing 31 statutes of his naked body across the streets and rooftops of central London.

London is a city famous for its skyline: St Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, the London Eye, and most recently the Gherkin, the new post-modern masterpiece by star architect Sir Norman Foster. But now Londoners have something altogether different to feast their eyes on: naked men -- 31 of them.

The British artist Antony Gormley has decided to display the sculptures, cast from his own body, to coincide with an exhibiton of his work at the Hayward Gallery, along the south bank of the River Thames.

The show starts on May 17 and the statutes are now being installed on rooftops and in pedestrian areas over a 1.5-square-kilometer area in central London. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to view the sculptures from a terrace at the gallery. The sculptures are due to remain in place until the Hayward Gallery exhibition ends on Aug. 19.

The artist said the project, entitled "Event Horizon," is intended to "get under people's skins" and make them think about how 50 percent of the world's population are now living in cities.

"The idea is to somehow introduce these life-sized figures into the topography of London, as it if were a natural landscape, as if it were mountains against the sky," he told the BBC.

Gormley, a previous winner of the Turner prize, is no stranger to these kinds of ambitious public art commissions. His projects include "Angel of the North," a 20-meter-tall winged sculpture near Gateshead in England, and "Another Place," which involved fixing 100 statues, also cast from a mould of the artist's body, into the sand on a beach near Liverpool in northern England.

The "Another Place" installation had originally been intended as a temporary project but met with such approval and interest that local councillors voted in March to let most of the statues stay.

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