• Staff

To Infinity and Beyond: British American Contemporary Artist Anthony James

September 18, 2020


British Artist Anthony James takes us to the future and beyond using ancient metalworking techniques on his latest 2020 installation, ‘Repose.’


U.K. and Los Angeles based artist, Anthony James latest 2020 series “Repose” comprised three Ferrari bodies: the 1957 250TR, 1962 250 GTO, and the 1967 P4 sculptures in bronze, aluminum, and copper. Photo via Anthony James Studio

Anthony James may be best known for his monumental installations which are rooted in signature themes of Greek mythology, life, death, and rebirth through contemporary sculpture. Most of James' work looks straight out of a sci-fi film and plays on perceptual mechanics of vision, taking its viewer seemingly into another dimension and space.


A master sculptor, James studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art in London where he graduated with a degree in fine art painting. A 2010 Interview Magazine revealed that James felt like he “graduated in the wrong subject.” By his 3rd year at St. Martin, he was already immersed in sculpture. Shortly after graduating, James moved to New York.


His extraordinary “Birch Series” installation made international headlines when it debuted in New York, circa 2005 . The series is comprised of various sized, vertical illuminated, light glass boxes with young birch tree trunks encapsulated inside. It's mirror side reflections give the effect of an endless forest.


Photos courtesy of Anthony James Studio


Soon after followed James' 2008 Kalos Thanatos (KΘ) display, Greek for “beautiful death”, where he burned his Ferrari F335 Spyder in a birch forest. The artist then displayed it in a lighted mirrored glass case, an effect that is both powerful and pleasing to the eye. The installation was inspired by the ancient Greeks, who sacrificed to goddess Aphrodite in birch forests.


British American Artist - Anthony James - 2008 Kalos Thanatos Installation - Photo via Anthony James Studio
British American Artist - Anthony James - 2008 Kalos Thanatos Installation - Photo via Anthony James Studio

James' work has toured major art festivals and fine art shows across the globe. The Big Magazine caught a showing of James “Portals” series at the LA Art Show 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic had halted mass gatherings and events.

Photos of Anthony James 'Portals' series at the LA Art Show 2020 at the Los Angeles Convention Center by Newcountry for The Big Magazine


The LED illuminated “Portals” series consists of large titanium Icosahedrons (a geometric globe with 20 triangular faces, 30 edges and 12 vertices) using LED light to invoke a psychedelic optical illusion. Icosahedrons were initially conceptualized by Plato to exhibit an ideal compositional system of perfect symmetry in three dimensions.


U.K. Artist Anthony James "Portals" Series - Photo via Anthony James Studio


James' latest 2020 series, “Repose” is named after the “chasing” and “repoussé, ” an ancient metalworking technique, often used in conjunction with one another to transform natural elements into what are, by virtue of the human component, manufactured shapes.


Photos of ‘Repose’ 2020 courtesy of Anthony James Studio


Chasing, as a technique, is about striking sheets of metal from the top – from above, pushing the metal down while repoussé is the reverse – you are driving the metal forward from below. This is but one example of how, via their fabrication alone, these sculptures are monuments of both contradiction and spirituality. As above, so below.


The series is comprised of three Ferrari bodies: the 1957 250TR, 1962 250 GTO, and the 1967 P4. The sculptures are presented in archival quality bronze, aluminum, and copper. In their original incarnations, each of these Ferrari’s are exemplary automotive specimens -- the apex of power, form, function, and aesthetics.


The materials, as the cars, each have their own distinctive personalities. Copper is a soft, feminine element appearing to glow from its own warmth. The surface transforms in time, showing and owning its age by offering a milky green patina. Bronze, perhaps the most classic of sculptural materials, has an incomparable weight and depth. Aluminum, the most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust, is relatively lightweight and has an incredible natural ability to both reflect light and resist corrosion. Each metal is intentional.


U.K. and Los Angeles based artist, Anthony James latest 2020 series “Repose” comprised three Ferrari bodies: the 1957 250TR, 1962 250 GTO, and the 1967 P4 sculptures in bronze, aluminum, and copper.

Stripped of their engines, stripped of their function they become vehicles of transcendence.


We reached out to Anthony James for comment on why he uses Ferrari models in his work. Here is what the artist had to say:


TBM: Do you have a relationship with the Ferrari?


AJ: I’ve been obsessed with Ferrari all of my life. You could consider Scaglietti, their number one coachbuilder, more of a sculptor of unusual objects than a traditional designer. The singular bodies are beautiful, while absolutely aerodynamic, and the mechanical performance is obviously considered the best in the world.


TBM: Have you ever been approached by Ferrari to work on future concept car design?


AJ: I would love the opportunity to work with Ferrari.


TMB: Is Repose on display right now? Please give details on where.


AJ: The Repose pieces will be displayed at the Palm Springs Art Museum and at Opera Gallery, Singapore.


We thought maybe James has a relationship with Ferrari but were blown away to find out he did not. The ‘Repose’ Ferrari's resemble the 2020 future concept cars we saw at the LA Auto Show. We reached out to Ferrari's PR contact, to ask what the luxury carmaker thought of the artist stripping the Ferrari of everything that makes it valuable and turning it into a piece of art that is equally beautiful and valuable?

Ferrari's PR declined to comment.

Anthony James Studio is open by appointment due to Covid-19 concerns. For more information, visit: www.anthonyjamesstudio.com