Anish Kapoor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The artist
    Lisson Gallery, London
    Peder Lund, Oslo
    Private Collection, Oslo

  • Catalogue Essay

    “There is a history in the stone and through this simple device of excavating the stone it's just as if a whole narrative sequence is suddenly there. “ Anish Kapoor

    Executed in 2007, Untitled is a superlative paradigm of Anish Kapoor's investigation into the possibilities of spatial manipulation. Captivatingly alluring, the sculpture provokes primal physical and psychological responses, invites profound cerebral and spiritual discourse, and exports awe via its sublimely beautiful form. The first of his onyx works to come to auction; its sheer magnitude marks it apart as a sculptural phenomenon that evokes the sublime beauty of nature.

    Using a solid block of rich onyx, deliberately left raw and roughly-hewn on one side and by contrast, smoothed flat to a fine lustrous surface on the other, Kapoor has manipulated the material quality of the stone in a way that articulates its inherently variable nature. Carving a primary rectangular portal within which sits a barely perceptible orb, into which he has then carved a secondary portal, which opens into the curved interior space of the sphere, Kapoor actually fills the empty interior of the block with the non-material essence of the void. This pregnant emptiness in turn generates a pervasive and mysterious sense of the infinite and spiritual that lies inherent within all things - even, as this work demonstrates, at the heart of the most dense and solid of materials such as stone. It is a void that in many ways is at odds with our conventional Western perception of the world as a place of apparent Aristotelian solidity and cohesiveness, ultimately demonstrating this to be an illusion. However, it is a spiritual space that has been utilized and understood for millennia.

    The precursor to the dome, the arch, has always embodied the heavenly and as soon as man was able to formulate a dome, its presence in monumental architecture has been pervasive. From the Tomb of Agamenmnon in Mycenae, to the Pantheon in Rome, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and beyond, the dome and curved architectural recess has become tantamount to the heavenly. In Untitled Kapoor directly reference the mihrab, the domed niche of a mosque which faces Mecca. This is a space pregnant with the weight and power of the unknown, of the mystical, the transcendent and divine. That Kapoor, and man more generally, should want to create these ethereal physical spaces out of the most grounded and earthly material stands as witness to his desire to make evident in his art, and the viewer’s absorption of it, the dichotomous nature of being.

    Untitled proves the incarnation of Kapoor's artistic dialectic. It is a truly sublime artwork whose spiritual enterprise finds a subtly differing ontological response in every viewer. For Kapoor, recognition of certain spirituality is paramount to his working process, and for him art has assumed an almost religious purpose. In an era witnessing widespread disillusionment with traditional belief systems, Untitled posits a spiritual universality that is truly accessible, "to allow for the epiphanic reabsorption of the human by the divine." (G. Celant, Anish Kapoor, London, 1996, p. xxx) Coming out of the ubiquitous color saturation of earlier works, Untitled announces the vitality of the chaste stone itself. Kapoor invests the void with identity, and in so doing creates the spiritual manifestation of infinite potentiality.



54 1/2 x 58 5/8 x 23 1/2 in. (138.4 x 148.9 x 59.7 cm)

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm