James Hall

Larger than Life

The Colossal: From Ancient Greece to Giacometti


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At 20 metres high and 54 metres wide, Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North is the contemporary equivalent of the 32-metre-high Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the sun god Helios that became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Both preside over heavy traffic – the former flanks the A1 on the outskirts of Gateshead, while the latter flanked the main harbour of the Greek island. The horizontal transient flow of the traffic contrasts with the vertical immovability of the statues, though the Colossus of Rhodes was in fact destroyed by an earthquake after 56 years, and who knows whether fracking or global warming will overthrow Gormley’s angel.

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