Anish Kapoor is one of the renowned and influential artists of the generation, compelling the audience to reimagine art and engagement with the form and scale of the art pieces. Anish Kapoor is a Mumbai-born (1954) British artist as he migrated to London to pursue art in Hornsey College of Art, London, UK (1973-77), followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London, UK (1977-78).
Kapoor is known for his public arts that are adventures in form and scale. The artworks challenge and celebrate engineering advancements where Kapoor’s art has the emotional and psychological quality leaving the materiality unnoticed. Anish Kapoor creates sculptors simple but powerful to allow the audience to have objective interpretations of the art.
Anish Kapoor specialises in eye-catching art with bright colour pigments, visual distortion, loud and profound sounds blend within impactfully gigantic art pieces, which leaves the audience awestruck by its non-objectification. Here are his 10 incredible artworks:
Marsyas is a substantial red sculptor made out of steel and PVC membrane occupying the whole Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London, in 2002. Anish Kapoor was inspired by a satyr in Greek mythology, where Marsyas was flayed by the god Apollo for playing music better than him. Hence the art itself gives a sense of musical instruments like a trumpet but made out of red skin to convey the injured, bodily quality as a part of the story.
The art is so huge that it can not be viewed fully from any location. Anish Kapoor intended to give the glance in parts to interpret the whole sculptor gradually. The Marsyas consists of three metal rings, two of them facing vertically and the third facing down the bridge, joined together by a single span of fleshy PVC fabric. The sculpture was engineered in reality by Cecil Balmond, making it 150m long and 10 storeys high.
Ascension is a tangible column gradually rising upwards made out of intangible smoke exhibited in Basilica di San Giorgio, Venice, as a part of Venice Art Biennale in 2011. Ascension was previously demonstrated in gallery spaces in San Gimignano (Italy), in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and in Beijing (China). Still, the art in the Basilica created a spiritual quality inspired by Ascension itself, which depicts Jesus’s last moments on earth. Jesus was giving blessings as he was rising upwards towards heaven.
Anish Kapoor intends to objectify the immateriality of smoke. And the smoke is given thrust upwards from a pedestrian in the intersection of Basilica’s transept and nave, which keeps rising with the help of fans attached to the columns of Basilica. The artist, Anish Kapoor himself, said that he tries to often blur what it is and what it seems to be. Kapoor has materialised the faith with what people enter Basilicas in the art piece called Ascension.
3. Sky Mirror
Sky Mirror is one of the most spectacular public art in New York City of the United States. Sky Mirror is a 35ft (11m) diameter, 3-storeys high stainless steel circular disk held on a steep angle at Rockefeller Center’s courtyard in 2006. The polished concave surface of the disk faces the Rockefeller Center’s courtyard, and the convex side reflects the cityscape of the fifth avenue.
As the name suggests, Sky Mirror reflects, refracts and distorts the dynamicity of New York City. Anish Kapoor has intentionally created Sky Mirror to bring the sky down to the earth on high-density streets of NYC. Anish Kapoor describes public art as a circular void or escape window that merges in the city’s business while non-objectifying the huge object sitting on a pedestrian in the middle of the crowded city. Many versions of Sky Mirror were installed around the world, later of various diameters.
4. Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate is one of the most celebrated sculptures of Anish Kapoor standing like a massive bean in the middle of Millenium park of Chicago downtown, existing since 2006. The Cloud Gate has a reflective surface made out of 168 plates of stainless steel attached together to create a seamless reflective bean sizing 10 meters tall sitting on an area of 20 by 13 meters.
Anish Kapoor intended to play with geometric optics and provide the audience with the freedom to choose a reflecting background according to their aspiration. But the reflection is distorted, which makes people explore the whole sculpture with curiosity. Anish Kapoor was inspired by the liquid metal Mercury. Hence the inspiration can justify the form of the Cloud Gate. The reflecting Cloud Gate celebrates the cityscape of Chicago downtown and presents it to the people walking towards it.
5. Tall Tree and the Eye
Tall Tree and the Eye is again a reflective sculpture created by Anish Kapoor in 2009 placed on the rear side of Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, designed by architect Frank O. Gehry. The art piece is a 14 meters tall object with 73 reflective globes spanning 5 meters with each orb of diameter one meter.
The massive sculptor gives a sense of lightness and orbs floating together in the air because each globe reflects the same neighbouring view depending on the audience’s location. The stainless steel sculpture stands independent but also complements the architectural masterpiece acting as a backdrop.
Anish Kapoor was himself intrigued by the fragility of the art piece reflected with the organic gaps between the reflective orbs reflecting fractal images endlessly. Kapoor was inspired by DNA but gave a mathematical and structural touch to the sculpture spread in three axes. A version of Tall Tree and the Eye was installed earlier at the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Art for a short period.
6. Shooting in the Corner
Shooting in the Corner is a bit out-of-the-box type of artwork as it is not a sculpture standing there to admire. Instead, the art to admire is in the process of its creation. Shooting in the Corner was on display by Anish Kapoor in various locations around the world like the Royal Academy, London and the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna throughout the year 2009. A pneumatic compressor cannon shoots a cylindrical dead mass of blood-red wax weighing 9kgs.
The cannon fires the red wax towards a plain white corner every 20 mins operated by a gallery attendant. Anish Kapoor has intentionally created an unpleasant feeling followed by the sea of anxiety, wait and violence, which is triggered by the red wax giving a sense of massacre. But somehow, people seem to enjoy the aimless firing with a hint of fear which Kapoor aimed for in the end.
Leviathan was a substantially inflated sculpture inside the Grand Palais of Paris in 2011. Leviathan, as the name suggests, is a 35-meter tall resultant space out of three interconnected balloons. The skin of Leviathan is purple from the outside and red from the inside. The skin is thin enough to celebrate the shadow of the glass and metal arched ceiling of Grand Palais. Hence the giant balloon borrows a virtual structure from the context itself.
Anish Kapoor intends to create a space within a space to admire the height and luminosity of the site. Kapoor’s artwork allows the audience to walk inside the work, providing a cocoon-like space alien to the world we live in, leading them to a mental and spiritual rediscovery of themselves followed by an aesthetic and visual shock as visitors enter the Palais.
8. ArcelorMittal Orbit
ArcelorMittal Orbit is a sculptural viewing tower designed as an artistic move for the London Olympics and Paralympics, 2012. The Orbit tower is a hybrid of art and structure created by artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond. The tower is dynamic but in a non-linear way which was the initial idea about the design. ArcelorMittal Orbit sits in the middle of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London.
The 115 meter high sculptural tower has a viewing point from where the whole of London can be admired. Kapoor’s intention behind creating an unconventional tower, unlike a clock tower or pyramid, he tries to develop a sense of instability out of off-centered spiral red elbowed metal structure. The artwork was criticised later on for its appearance, but the ArcelorMittal Orbit now has a slide to thrill visitors after the termination of the 2012 Olympic and paralympic events.
9. Ark Nova
Anish Kapoor created Ark Nova in collaboration with Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, an inflated mobile concert hall with 500 seats that will tour the tsunami and earthquake-struck regions of Japan. Ark Nova was designed to host the 2013 Lucerne Festival in Matsushima. The Fest comprised music, dance, theatre, and many more under an inflated rubber balloon inspired by Anish Kapoor’s earlier works, including Leviathan and Marsyas. The toroidal shape of the building turns in on itself, creating a diagonal tube across the interior.
The tensile fabric was developed to the artist’s specification, with Anish Kapoor’s signature colour. The final result appears opaque purple from the outside and translucent red from the inside, providing the audience with an incredible visual experience. The skin’s translucence allows for an organic change in light levels at night. The internal tube is visually arresting and helps to modulate acoustics. Creating this toroidal shape for Ark Nova has definitely pushed the limits of inflatables design.
Descension is a massive water swirl attracting the audience with its loud noise. Descension was first exhibited at the Kochi-Muziris biennale of 2016 in India. Then Descension was installed at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, NY, for the audience of the United States in 2017. The artwork is a water vortex sunk in a circular hole in the floor of the exhibition space confined by a guardrail. The whirlpool has no origin, but water seems to continuously swirl downwards, creating a mysterious downwards pull into unknown interiors.
Anish Kapoor has flushed the artwork with the floor, making it difficult to visually notice. Still, the loud noise of massive swirl evidently grabs one’s ears and draws the audience physically towards the most talked Descension. Kapoor intends to create a frightening experience by dissolving the floor’s solidity into the water with turbulence. The diameter of art varies at different locations. However, the scale of the Descension with respect to a man can be realised from the pictures.