Anish Kapoor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 16, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Anish Kapoor’s Untitled is a luminous example of the artist’s multisensory exploration of space and the gaze within his series of reflective concave mirrors. Peering into the mirror, the viewer is confronted with a magnified vision of themselves as if transformed through pure abstraction. The fractured surface of stainless steel triangles enacts a kaleidoscope effect, absorbing and distorting everything in its path. Executed in 2012, another example of this work is held by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. The perfection of its surface is critical to the aperture’s ability to reflect and magnify objects around it, since the concave form enhances the appearance of every fragment. Its flawlessness makes the viewer lose sight of the medium, becoming immersed in the parallel universe intrinsic to Kapoor’s creations.

    Kapoor began creating concave mirrors in the mid-1990s, fascinated by the objects' propensities to oscillate between sensual beauty and uncanny dematerialization. In a 2015 interview about his mirror installation at Versailles, famously the home of a thousand mirrors, Kapoor declared, “Sensuality is terror…Sensuality somehow convinces us we are not alone.” Yet the glittering shadow is offset by the inverted form which resembles a hollow chasm, activated by the presence of the spectator. “A void object is not an empty object; its potential for generative possibility is ever present. It is pregnant. The void returns the gaze. Its blank face forces us to fill in content and meaning. Emptiness becomes fullness. Things are turned upside down…The art I love, the art I make, I hope, celebrates the sensual while always knowing that decay is close” (Anish Kapoor, quoted in “Blood and Light. In Conversation with Julia Kristeva”, 2015, Anish Kapoor, online).

    can be imagined as the culmination of this investigation, one of a series of metonymic works which are implicitly concerned with multiplying spatial illusions, iterating Kapoor’s long-held engagement with geometry as a language of form that explores the nature of the object and our relation to it. With works such as Tall Tree and the Eye, 2009 and the fractured and pixelated surface of Untitled Kapoor introduces an entropic disruption to the space between subject and object, where wholeness is shattered in the multiplicity of distortion the object presents.

    The uncanny sense of limitlessness produced by the reflection recalls Kapoor’s interest in the analogy between the idea of the sublime in the artistic tradition and the cosmic concept of a parallel universe. “The spatial questions [the mirrored object] seemed to ask were not about deep space but about present space, which I began to think about as a new sublime. If the traditional sublime is in deep space, then this is proposing that the contemporary sublime is in front of the picture plane, not beyond it,” Kapoor explained (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Anish Kapoor: Past Present Future, exh. cat., The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2008, p. 52). When the viewer peers into its dizzying surface, Untitled subsumes the material body into an illusion of immateriality – an answer to an unspoken question, the embodiment of spiritual self-perception realized.

    The Romantic pursuit of the sublime figures strongly in Kapoor’s influences, particularly Caspar David Friedrich’s hypnotic paintings of Rückenfigur: people seen from behind, contemplating vast landscapes swathed in pale fog. By rendering his characters anonymous, his landscapes vague, Friedrich allowed his spectators to identify themselves at the precipice of the unknown. By contrast, Untitled performs the same visual alchemy in front of the picture plane rather than on its surface, enabling the potential for transcendence through the warped dimension of the convex shell.

    Catalyzing the surrounding environment in a brilliant reflective vortex, Untitled symbolizes the essence of sight and perception as plane, space and image. As art historian Victoria Turvey Sauron wrote on Kapoor’s mirrored works, “This all-surface is both fascinatingly beautiful and profoundly threatening, profoundly implicating the subject’s gaze while threatening its very coherence, by suggesting that both subject and gaze are being sucked inside an interior which cannot be known or imagined, the sense of surface is so overwhelming” (Victoria Turvey Sauron, The Sacred and the Feminine, New York, 2009, p. 196).

Property from a Distinguished Private Collection



signed and dated "Anish Kapoor 2012" on the reverse
stainless steel and resin
78 3/4 x 78 3/4 x 14 in. (200 x 200 x 35.6 cm.)
Executed in 2012.

$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for $860,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue