Anish Kapoor

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Feb 5, 2023

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Sir Anish Kapoor (Bombay, March 12, 1954) is a British sculptor of Indian and Iraqi Jewish descent.

Born to an Indian father and an Iraqi Jewish mother, at age nineteen, after studying for two years in Israel at an electronics school, he moved to England to enroll in art school. He became interested in Marcel Duchamp's celibate machines and met the man who would become his teacher, Paul Neàgu. He gives life to a series of installations aimed at investigating the leading themes in his artistic journey: the androgyne, that is, the female-male dichotomy, sexuality, and ritual with a broader use of the sculptural medium in tune with some of the research of the 1960s, such as arte povera or the work of Joseph Beuys.

In 1979 he rediscovered his Indian-ness by traveling to his home country becoming aware of a kind of extraterritoriality on the boundary of two cultures, Eastern and Western culture. Kapoor returned to England and created the 1000 Names series, unstable sculptural objects. In 1980 at Patrice Alexandre's studio in Paris, he exhibited his first show. The following year at Coracle Press in London he gets his first solo exhibition. A strong friendship developed with the owner of the Lisson Gallery in London, Nicholas Longsdail.

In 1990 he participated as Britain's representative at the XLIV Venice Biennale where he was awarded a prize. In 1991 he wins the Turner Prize. He obtains various commissions, both public and private. He uses a variety of materials: from Carrara marble, granite, slate and sandstone for works such as Void Field or Ghost in 1989. He tries his hand at reflective surfaces, creating mirrors that distort or even obliterate the image itself, resulting in works such as 1997's Double Mirror, 1995's Turning the World Upside Down or 1998's Suck. Taratantara is a work for the Baltic Centre in Gateshead. Chicago's Millennium Park commissioned him to create the famous Cloud Gate, shaped like a large bean eighteen meters long and nine meters high of stainless steel. It is a work without a center, a large deforming mirror reflecting the landscape around it and the sky into a single surface.


Anish Kapoor uses materials such as granite, limestone, marble, wood, and plaster to create objects with enigmatic, geometric or biomorphic shapes covered in colorful pigments, a clear reference to Indian chromatic imagery. The colors are mostly warm and endowed with a luminosity almost of their own. A glow that always coexists with darkness and is often transformed into mirrored surfaces that reflect or absorb light and reality around. For Kapoor, the color red has the meaning of passion, the setting sun, the bloody snow after battle, but most of all the inside of our bodies.

The color blue, or rather Prussian blue has a similar meaning to Yves Klein. Blue is a color particularly beloved in esoteric philosophy, and in all religions it is used for all that is sublime, spiritual, transcendent, and infinite. Kapoor uses blue powder to dematerialize forms and make them impalpable, pushing them almost to levitation, preventing us from understanding the real nature of what we are observing. The skin is for Kapoor the moment of tension and action of the work, the place in which we sense change. The works are configurations of objects, they become gardens or rather places, they invade the space of the room and absorb it until they become part of the work itself. They have titles that suggest Hindu mythological images, yet the impact with the work always takes us back to a physically perceptive dimension, in which the only means of knowledge are our senses and our bodies.

By the mid-1980s, dualities are gradually being resolved through reabsorption into unity, as if the longed-for union of opposites, male and female, tangible and intangible, inner and outer, had finally come true and we see the poles joined in a single configuration. Place, 1983, Pot for Her, 1984, Mother as a Mountain, 1985, were born. Beginning in the mid-1990s he explored the concept of emptiness, making works that disappear into walls or floors to destabilize our assumptions about the physical world. They give visceral and immediate impact to abstract dualities, such as presence and absence, the infinite and illusion, solidity and intangibility. Kapoor focuses on the active or transformative properties of the materials he uses. "I am very interested in the non-object or the non-material. I have made objects in which things are not what they at first appear to be. A stone can lose its weight or an object in a mirror-like way can camouflage itself in its surroundings to appear as a hole in space."

In 2016, it exclusively acquired the rights to use the famous "Vantablack," which remains until 2019 the darkest known material composed of carbon nanotubes and absorbing up to 99.965 percent of radiation, in the field of art.


All of Kapoor's works have clarifying titles. The title, in fact, as Marcel Duchamp said, is a fundamental part of the work. For example, let us consider The Healing of St. Thomas from 1989: it is an almost imperceptible scrape made on one of the walls of the exhibition room. A red tear on the white wall, a kind of wound: like the one that is present on the side of the risen Christ and that Thomas wants to touch in order to ascertain his wonderful presence. Between 1989 and 1990 Kapoor creates a work he titles Madonna. The viewer is admitted to the presence of the art object in a frontal manner. Bound to the wall by an invisible support, the work appears as if suspended. It is not possible to see what we are seeing: the object appears to consist of a large circular disk, and this impression increases, rather than decreases, as one approaches it.

Having almost come into contact, the viewer senses the presence of something inexplicable; the disc seems to be endowed with an attractive and mysterious force: one has to reach out one's hand to see whether it is a flat or hollow substance. At that moment something irreversible takes place. Having gone beyond the illusion of the flat surface, the hand penetrates the sudden space of emptiness, nothingness and absence. The observer should have stopped before the evidence of the mystery of the work, just as one should stop before the mystery of the sacred, without attempting to rationalize it. For the Christian religion, Mary's virginity represents a similar issue and the mystery of Christ's conception is and should remain elusive. The profound significance of this work lies in the realization that, in the disillusioned and secular time of our age, man wants to try to challenge everything, to try to get in touch with and understand the mystery of the sacred.

A very special sculpture, but with a different meaning than the one mentioned above, is certainly When I am pregnant, made in 1992, of fiberglass and paint; its dimensions are 198 x 152 x 15 cm. Made on a white wall, it consists of a bulb that emerges from the wall as a protuberance; depending on the position the viewer takes, it is possible to see the work more or less clearly and sharply.

The 1000 names, created around 1979-80, are unstable sculptural objects, forms between the abstract and the natural, completely covered with pure pigment, whose intense color predominantly yellow and red, hides the origin and suggests the idea of trespassing into classical forms, primarily circles and rectangles that are seemingly complex, constructed in a variety of synthetic and natural materials, such as aluminum, various pigments, enamels, resins, polymers and PVC to give unique effects to classical and organic forms. Shooting into the Corner is a cannon that fires cylindrical projectiles into a corner of the gallery where they explode like a body in a bad Hollywood movie. Installed in 2008-2009, it is powered by a pneumatic compressor and is reloaded by an attendant, with a 20-minute interval between shots.

In 2009, Anish Kapoor is appointed artistic director of the Brighton Festival: the artist installs three sculptures, Sky Mirror in the gardens of Royal Pavilion, Blood Relations in collaboration with writer Salman Rushdie and 1000 Names at Fabrica. He also creates two new works: one entitled The Dismemberment of Jeanne d'Arc and a performance entitled Imagined Monochrome. The audience response was warm. Sky Mirror literally brings the sky back down to earth: it is a circular stainless steel sculpture that rests on a platform a few feet above street level. Installed in New York City, its concave side, angled upward, reflects the sky and an upside-down portrait of Rockefeller Center. In contrast, its convex side, facing Fifth Avenue, reflects a more earthly view, including viewers in the middle of adjacent streets.

This object changes the way we see through day and night and is an example of what Kapoor describes as a "non-object," a sculpture that, despite its monumentality, suggests a window to nowhere and often seems to vanish with its surroundings. Tall Tree and the Eye is a sculpture placed in the gardens of the Royal Academy of Arts. It is a 15-meter-high tower constructed of stainless steel and consists of 76 mirrored spheres interlocked with each other that create a continuous change, thanks to their reflections, but despite these components it seems to be weightless. Kapoor himself said that for its creation he was inspired by the words of German poet Rainer Maria Rilke: "It is a set of images that I have always loved in his sonnets to Orpheus, and this work is, in a way, a kind of eye that reflects endless images."

Cloud Gate opened in 2006 at Chicago's Millennium Park. The work, built between 2004 and 2006, is nicknamed "The Bean" because of its bean shape. Composed of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its exterior is completely polished and has no seams of any kind. The design was inspired by liquid mercury. The surface reflects the surrounding city skyline, viewers are free to admire it even when passing under it since the height of the "omphalos" (from the Greek for "navel") is a 3.7-meter high indentation where the mirrored surface offers multiple reflections of any object placed under it. This work was chosen during a design competition.

Initially there was a great deal of concern about the technologies that could be used for assembly, and even later additional concerns arose regarding maintenance such as temperature variation between seasons with the fear that the structure might weaken. Graffiti, bird droppings and fingerprints were the potential problems. Eventually, however, the work was built, albeit somewhat behind the estimated schedule. Cloud Gate was submitted incomplete in 2004 and then completed on May 15, 2006.

The mayor of Chicago decided that date would be remembered as "Cloud Gate Day." The public immediately accepted this sculpture partly because of its nickname, so much so that the work has become an important public art monument and is now a symbol of the city. Kapoor has let it be known that his work is expected to last around 1,000 years. Maintenance has been entrusted to a company that cleans it by hand twice a day. A total cleaning every 40 years is also planned.


Anish Kapoor also devotes himself to architecture. Taratantara is a huge double trumpet 50 meters long, wide and 35 meters high. Made of a red pvc tarpaulin with a velvety rubber-like texture, it demarcates and circumscribes a "physical and psychic place" equipped with two openings that offers itself to multiple gazes, infinite readings, and numerous analogies: it resembles a bridge, a tunnel, a huge bow tie, a kite, a giant kaleidoscope. With rare poetic intensity Kapoor completely changes the face of the place where this work appears, with the techniques proper to "a painter who is a sculptor." Temenos is the first sculpture for the Tees Valley Giants project (five huge sculptures formed by one ring and one ellipse element, about 50 meters high, joined by a 110-meter-long network of steel cables) begun in 2008, was completed in 2010. The Temenos is located between the Middlesbrough Transporter bridge and Riverside Stadium. Its steel structure is 50 meters high and is supported by two a poles that have a circular ring and an oval ring above them, all held together by an intertwining of steel wires. It is compared to a huge mosquito net. The cost of this work was about 2,700,000 pounds, while the total cost of the five circles is expected to be around 20 million pounds.


Anish Kapoor together with engineer Cecil Balmond designed the construction of the new Olympic brazier lit at the 2012 London Games of the XXX Olympiad and the Arcelor Mittal Orbit tower, which opened in May 2012. The tower was desired by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell. At 115 meters tall, some have already dubbed it the "new Eiffel Tower," while others-the British online architecture magazine Archinet-have dubbed it "London's largest erection." A red tower developed in a spiral reminiscent of the shape of DNA and encompassing the five Olympic rings.

The cost was estimated at around 19 million pounds, of which 16 came from Britain's wealthy tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of the steel company ArcelorMittal the firm that produces the steel used for the construction, while the other 3 million pounds came from the London Development Agency. Both Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond speak of this construction as a radical advance in architecture: combining sculpture and structural engineering, stability with instability. Visitors walk inside a built-in walkway made to spiral. There has been no shortage of praise but also criticism of its bold design: it has been called a vanity project, a questionable use of public art.

An unfinished project that Anish Kapoor was supposed to realize in Italy is the Monte Sant'Angelo station of the Naples Metro. This project included not only the Monte Sant'Angelo station, but the entire rail link in Naples. The design of the station that was to be built maintains a plastic sensibility that distinguishes Kapoor's style. The idea, in fact, is to evoke, in an ironic way, the descent of the underworld, a basin that embraces the traveler by accompanying him into the bowels of the earth. The entire work was to be made of Corten steel, a material well suited to the surrounding volcanic terrain. The project kicked off in 2003 but, due to lack of funds, it stopped, leaving the station unfinished. Eduardo Cicelyn, director of the Donnaregina Museum of Contemporary Art in Naples, sees Kapoor as the person who can continue the work while changing the project, however.

On Feb. 27, 2004, five years after the Ministry's green light, the Campania region entrusted Anish Kapoor with the artistic design of the project. In November, the sculptor signs the contract; the title of the project is "Art and Engineering." Seven and a half months later, the project is finished, work then begins, but there is an immediate stop regarding the material to be used for the artist's sculptures. In 2007, work was halted because of a problem regarding the choice of the company that would be able to create the two works. Engineers first asked Fincantieri, then companies in the United States and Germany and the Dutch Central Staal. The first work is started, the other remains stationary. The artist's project included 12 meters of slabs to be joined together to then have the work completed; technology, however, allows a maximum of 4 meters of slabs to be worked on Corten steel, so until all the mathematical calculations for resizing the structure are redone, this project cannot be realized.

Anish Kapoor designed for The Pollino National Park a work entitled "Earth Cinema": an earth cinema, a "cut" carved into the earth (45 meters long) into which people can enter from both sides. Inside, a long slit allows people to "see" the extraordinary natural landscape, feeling part of it.


Other solo exhibitions of his works were held:

His most famous works are collected notably at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery, the Prada Foundation in Milan, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the De Pont Foundation in the Netherlands, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa.


  1. Anish Kapoor
  2. Anish Kapoor
  3. ^ or early 2017[2]
  4. Son père et son grand-père étaient les chantres de la synagogue de Puna.[réf. souhaitée]
  5. a b «Interview: Anish Kapoor is the biggest name in art». Consultado el 8 de septiembre de 2016.
  6. Anish Kapoor en la Lisson Gallery
  7. Anish Kapoor en la Gladstone Gallery
  8. Anish Kapoor en la Galleria Continua

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