Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor

1954 - Present

Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor, is a British-Indian sculptor specializing in installation art and conceptual art. Born in Mumbai, Kapoor attended the elite all-boys Indian boarding school The Doon School, before moving to the UK to begin his art training at Hornsey College of Art and, later, Chelsea School of Art and Design.

His notable public sculptures include Cloud Gate (2006, also known as "The Bean") in Chicago's Millennium Park; Sky Mirror, exhibited at the Rockefeller Center in New York City in 2006 and Kensington Gardens in London in 2010; Temenos, at Middlehaven, Middlesbrough; Leviathan, at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011; and ArcelorMittal Orbit, commissioned as a permanent artwork for London's Olympic Park and completed in 2012. In 2017, Kapoor designed the statuette for the 2018 Brit Awards.

An image of Kapoor features in the British cultural icons section of the newly designed British passport in 2015. In 2016, he was announced as a recipient of the LennonOno Grant for Peace.

Kapoor has received several distinctions and prizes, such as the Premio Duemila Prize at the XLIV Venice Biennale in 1990, the Turner Prize in 1991, the Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government in 2012, a knighthood in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to visual arts, an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Oxford in 2014. and the 2017 Genesis Prize for "being one of the most influential and innovative artists of his generation and for his many years of advocacy for refugees and displaced people".

Kapoor became known in the 1980s for his geometric or biomorphic sculptures using simple materials such as granite, limestone, marble, pigment and plaster. These early sculptures are frequently simple, curved forms, usually monochromatic and brightly coloured, using powder pigment to define and permeate the form. He has said of the sculptures "While making the pigment pieces, it occurred to me that they all form themselves out of each other. So I decided to give them a generic title, A Thousand Names, implying infinity, a thousand being a symbolic number. The powder works sat on the floor or projected from the wall. The powder on the floor defines the surface of the floor and the objects appear to be partially submerged, like icebergs. That seems to fit inside the idea of something being partially there..." Such use of pigment characterised his first high-profile exhibit as part of the New Sculpture exhibition at the Hayward Gallery London in 1978.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Kapoor was acclaimed for his explorations of matter and non-matter, specifically evoking the void in both free-standing sculptural works and ambitious installations. Many of his sculptures seem to recede into the distance, disappear into the ground or distort the space around them. In 1987, he began working in stone. His later stone works are made of solid, quarried stone, many of which have carved apertures and cavities, often alluding to, and playing with dualities (earth-sky, matter-spirit, lightness-darkness, visible-invisible, conscious-unconscious, male-female, and body-mind). "In the end, I'm talking about myself. And thinking about making nothing, which I see as a void. But then that's something, even though it really is nothing."Since 1995, he has worked with the highly reflective surface of polished stainless steel. These works are mirror-like, reflecting or distorting the viewer and surroundings. Over the course of the following decade Kapoor's sculptures ventured into more ambitious manipulations of form and space. He produced a number of large works, including Taratantara (1999), a 35-metre-high piece which was installed in the Baltic Flour Mills in Gateshead, England, prior to the renovation beginning there which turned the structure into the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art; and Marsyas (2002), a large work consisting of three steel rings joined by a single span of PVC membrane that reached end to end of the 3,400-square-foot (320 m2) Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. Kapoor's Eye in Stone (Norwegian: Øye i stein) is permanently placed at the shore of the fjord in Lødingen in northern Norway as part of Artscape Nordland. In 2000, one of Kapoor's works, Parabolic Waters, consisting of rapidly rotating coloured water, was shown outside the Millennium Dome in London.

The use of red wax is also part of his repertoire, evocative of flesh, blood, and transfiguration. In 2007, he showed Svayambh (which translated from Sanskrit means "self-generated"), a 1.5-metre block of red wax that moved on rails through the Nantes Musée des Beaux-Arts as part of the Biennale estuaire; this piece was shown again in a major show at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and in 2009 at the Royal Academy in London. Some of Kapoor's work blurs the boundaries between architecture and art. In 2008, Kapoor created Memory in Berlin and New York for the Guggenheim Foundation, his first piece in Cor-Ten, which is formulated to produce a protective coating of rust. Weighing 24 tons and made up of 156 parts, it calls to mind Richard Serra's huge, rusty steel works, which also invite viewers into perceptually confounding interiors.

In 2009, Kapoor became the first Guest Artistic Director of Brighton Festival. Kapoor installed four sculptures during the festival: Sky Mirror at Brighton Pavilion gardens; C-Curve at The Chattri, Blood Relations (a collaboration with author Salman Rushdie); and 1000 Names, both at the Fabrica Gallery. He also created a large site-specific work titled The Dismemberment of Jeanne d'Arc and a performance-based installation: Imagined Monochrome. The public response was so overwhelming that police had to re-divert traffic around C Curve at the Chattri and exercise crowd control.

In September 2009, Kapoor was the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. As well as surveying his career to date, the show also included new works. On display were Non-Object mirror works, cement sculptures previously unseen, and Shooting into the Corner, a cannon that fires pellets of wax into the corner of the gallery. Previously shown at MAK, Vienna, in January 2009, it is a work with dramatic presence and associations and also continues Kapoor's interest in the self-made object, as the wax builds up on the walls and floor of the gallery the work slowly oozes out its form.

In early 2011, Kapoor's work, Leviathan, was the annual Monumenta installation for the Grand Palais in Paris. Kapoor described the work as: "A single object, a single form, a single colour...My ambition is to create a space with in a space that responds to the height and luminosity of the Nave at the Grand Palais. Visitors will be invited to walk inside the work, to immerse themselves in colour, and it will, I hope, be a contemplative and poetic experience."

In 2011, Kapoor exhibited Dirty Corner at the Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan. Having fully occupied the site's "cathedral" space, the work consists of a huge steel volume, 60 metres long and 8 metres high, that visitors enter. Inside, they gradually lose their perception of space, as it gets progressively darker and darker until there is no light, forcing people to use their other senses to guide them through the space. The entrance of the tunnel is goblet-shaped, featuring an interior and exterior surface that is circular, making minimal contact with the ground. Over the course of the exhibition, the work was progressively covered by some 160 cubic metres of earth by a large mechanical device, forming a sharp mountain of dirt which the tunnel appears to be running through.

In 2016, his art exposition in MUAC (Mexico City) was a success, with literary contributions from Catherine Lampert, Cecilia Delgado, and Mexican writer Pablo Soler Frost.

Kapoor sued the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) in 2018. The gun lobby group had, without the sculptor's consent, used a filmed image of Cloud Gate in an approximately one-minute-long promotional video called "The Violence of Lies". The suit was ultimately settled out of court. Kapoor reported that the settlement included the removal of his work from the NRA's film, saying "They have now complied with our demand to remove the unauthorized image of my sculpture Cloud Gate from their abhorrent video, which seeks to promote fear, hostility, and division in American society".

Text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2023