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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Anish Kapoor, May 12 – August 15, 2008 (another example exhibited)
    De Santa Clara, Murcia, Sharq Al-Andalus Hall Museum, November 2008 – January 2009 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    J. Peyton-Jones, H. Ulrich Obrist, Anish Kapoor: Turning the World Upside Down in Kensington Gardens, London, 2000, pp. 190-197 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Anish Kapoor is one of the foremost sculptors of our time, as is eminently demonstrated in the present lot. His geometric and biomorphic designs, for which he first became known in the 1980s, are made using materials such as stainless steel, Cor-ten steel, iron, aluminum, wax, resin, fiberglass, limestone, marble, and many others. His use of media bespeaks his versatility and mastery of both elemental and complex materials. While his signature concave spheres and monolith slabs conform to the precepts of minimalism in their formal construction, Kapoor infuses his works with an intensely spiritual and psychological power, drawing viewers in with their smooth surfaces, optical effects, impossible depths, and sensuous colors. Throughout his career and through the manipulation of these various medias, Kapoor has created works that seem to, and sometimes actually do, retreat into the horizon, melt into the floor and disappear into the wall, destabilizing our every notion of physical reality. His works are both present and absent, solid and ethereal, infinite and illusive, true and false. “I wish to make sculpture about belief, or about passion, about experience that is outside of material concern.” (Kapoor in Lewis Biggs, Objects & Sculpture, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, 1981, p. 20).

    The present lot, Untitled, 2008, is a part of Kapoor’s series of works featuring mirrored surfaces. His well-known public installations have graced multiple cities around the world with their highly polished stainless steel shell that reflect the world in which they are situated. In 2006 Sky Mirror, a 35 foot diameter concave mirror was placed at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center. Standing nearly three stories tall, the breathtaking mirror shimmered with the inverted image of New York’s iconic skyline. The concave surface faced 30 Rockefeller Plaza, reflecting an upside-down image of the historical skyscraper, and the convex side faced the bustling crowds and passing taxi cabs of Fifth Avenue. There, Kapoor’s mission went further than turning the world upside down — he reassembled it in a new image comprised of the shapes and shards of the earth and the sky. Sky Mirror, 2006, is an example of what Kapoor describes as a “non-object,” a sculpture that, despite its monumentality, creates a window or void that reinvents its surroundings. New York again became a beneficiary of Kapoor’s work when one of his mirrored sculptures was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008; Untitled, 2007 is the sister sculpture to the present lot, having been created a year earlier, and greets the viewers at the entrance to
    the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing.

    Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, 2008, drastically challenges standards of visual perception with its reflective skin comprised of thousands of octagonal and square mirrors. The mercurial surface demonstrates a powerful ability to mesmerize and in its visual gravity cannot fail to draw the viewer close. Transfixed by an elusive image that manifests itself across all of its honeycombed facets, the reflected image is fragmented across the surface until one moves closer, upon which the tiny images coalesce into a single impressionistic portrait. The slightest shift in position alters the image dramatically, changing the reflections captured in the concave sculpture. The enormous disk reflects light from every direction, producing thousands of miniature images on its surface. A warped reflection stares back from the apex; though it may resemble the viewer in size and shape, it is virtually unrecognizable. Confronting the viewer with cognitive dissonance, Kapoor has created a mirror in which the beholder strives in vain to find himself intact, a thrilling and meditative experience.

    Throughout their history, looking glasses have functioned as tools for both vanity and self-discovery, as they foster an awareness of the self and propagate
    a personal standard for one’s appearance. Historian Mark Pendergast, explains: “as human beings we use mirrors to reflect our own contradictory
    nature. On the one hand, we want to see things as they really are, to delve into the mysteries of life. On the other hand, we want the mysteries to remain
    mysteries. We yearn for definitive knowledge, yet we also revel in imagination, illusion and magic.” (Mark Pendergast, Mirror, Mirror: A History of the Human
    Love Affair with Reflection
    , Basic Books, New York, 2003, p. xii). Through sculptures, which confound our notions of scale, color, form and tactility,
    Kapoor envelopes the viewer in a unique visual and virtual sensation. In doing so, he deepens our understanding of our own consciousness and subjectivity,
    and his use of materials becomes a philosophy made matter. Untitled, 2008, is a type of sanctuary, a space where we become hyperaware of our physical
    being — our senses and our intellect — and become suspended in a space where we experience the sculptural object, the spectator, the environment,
    and the self all at once.

    “I’ve always been interested in the magical… truly mysterious implies that there is something else going on — it’s a matter of meaning” (Mythologies in the Making: Anish Kapoor in conversation with Nicholas Baume, in Baume, op. Cit, p. 39). Kapoor’s explorations of the material and the immaterial provide a unique glimpse into the artistic definition of magical. Though we never see a cohesive reflection of our physical selves, Untitled, 2008 is a vista of infinity and invisibility, as the human reflection is mysteriously transposed into thousands of realities of existence. The dual nature of this whole, yet crystallized existence is, in the end, spiritual — Jungian Symbolism directly relates reflection to religion: “Etymologically, the word ‘religion’ derives from ‘to consider carefully’ and ‘to reconnect’ — both variants equating with the roles of reflection and mirroring as they are sculpturally manifest and empowered by Kapoor.” (M. Bracewell, “Material Means: An Introduction to the art of Anish Kapoor, Anish Kapoor: Flashback, London 2011, p. 21).

    It is no surprise that Kapoor’s artistic statements emphasize the spiritual — that poignant intersection of religion and magic. What the viewer experiences then, both from a distance and in intimate form, is something secular yet teleological: an artistic design that evokes our deep fascination with who we are. Untitled, 2008, promotes a feeling of both grandeur and doubt as it evokes both wonder and magic in its monumentality and elegance. As is Kapoor’s intention, one’s experience of the work is closely related to an emotional journey of religion and faith. It pulls the spectator in and pushes him away. Concerned with the seen and unseen, the visible and the invisible, the cosmic and the terrestrial, the known and the unknown, it is nothing and everything all at once.




stainless steel
90 1/2 x 90 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (230 x 230 x 45 cm)

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,314,500

Contemporary Art Part I

7 November 2011
New York