Anthony James

Anthony James is a British/American artist based in Los Angeles, known for his monumental and performative sculptures and installations. James graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 1998. His work gestures towards minimalism, materiality, process, alchemy, language, mechanization, and experimentation with light and space. Michael Slenske interviewed James about his work in 2017 and wrote: “Though he claims a lot of his art is about esoteric concerns, death and rebirth, and a certain spiritual energy, he also argues, ‘A lot of the art is in the correction of a mistake or maybe it is the mistake. I’m very open to what comes to me. I feel like certain things are serendipitous.'”

 

Over the course of his career, James has exhibited works from his Birch Series (2005-present), Kalos Thanatos (2007-present), Morphic Fields (2014-present), Shields (2016-present), Neons (2006-present), and Portals/Plutonic Solids (2011-present).

 

James gained international recognition when he debuted his Birch Series in New York City in 2005. The pieces consisted of internally lit infinity vitrines creating endless birch forests which are associated with magical symbolism. James was inspired by the ancient Greeks who burned sacrifices to Aphrodite in birch forests and the works also reference the containment, simulacra and simulation of nature. In reflecting on James’ Birch Series, Glenn O’Brien wrote of birch trees that their “magic...is rooted in [the] special relationship with fly agaric mushrooms - that famed toadstool of the red cap and white spots - which is so often associated with elves and spirits… Many anthropologists consider it to be a possible agent of the transformation of human consciousness.” The birch tree is also “associated with birth and rebirth” and is “hermaphroditic and self-propagating, with male and female flowers on the same tree.”

 

Art historian Rachel Baum wrote that “Anthony James’ work takes up the concepts of the universal and transcendental in order to demonstrate the impossibility of their representation." The historical cosmology of Plato is a primary inspiration for his Portals/Plutonic Solids (2011-present). Referring to works in this series, James has said, "The Icosahedron is the highest and most beautiful geometric shape of the five platonic bodies and is associated with the element water. Water is all about flow, movement, and unity." James’ monumental Icosahedron sculptures, made of stainless steel, glass, and LED lights, will be exhibited at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in October 2019.

 

Anthony James' work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, and art fairs. His book, Morphic Fields, was originally published by Hatje Cantz Vertag in 2014.