Anish Kapoor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Anish Kapoor, 'Blade', Lot 14

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 13 February

  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004

  • Exhibited

    New York, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Anish Kapoor: WHITEOUT, 8 May - 25 June 2004, p. 65 (exhibited and illustrated, pp. 4, 25, 26-27, 34, 73)

  • Literature

    David Anfam, ed., Anish Kapoor, London, 2009, plate c, pp. 502-503 (another example illustrated)
    Stephanie Dieckvoss, Rosalind Furness and Melissa Larner, eds., Anish Kapoor: Turning the World Upside Down in Kensington Gardens, exh. cat., Serpentine Gallery, London, 2011, p. 140 (illustrated, pp. 135 and 139)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Spiralling from the ground upwards, Blade, 2004, forms part of Anish Kapoor’s body of mirrored works that the artist began creating in the mid-1990s, and more broadly falls within his integral and iconic sculptural language of the 'non-object' that he continues to explore. The sculpture was first exhibited alongside other intimately scaled works at the exhibition WHITEOUT, at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, just before the summer of 2004. Simultaneously, Kapoor was working on his monumental public sculpture Cloud Gate, 2004, which now gracefully occupies Chicago’s Millennium Park. From soft and undulating to ascending and sharp, these enigmatic, smaller sculptures continued the artist’s investigation of space and geometry as malleable terrains devoid of formulaic constrictions. Here, it is Blade’s ever-fluctuating form and reflective quality that upturns the viewers’ traditional perception of their surroundings and themselves.

    The uncanny sense of limitlessness produced by Blade’s reflection recalls Kapoor’s interest in the analogy between the idea of the sublime in 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 dazzling surface, Blade subsumes the material body into an illusion of immateriality. Ceaselessly distorting the viewer’s perception of their environments, Kapoor articulates materiality in a way that allows a simultaneous enaction of motion and staticity, form and void – demonstrating his capacity to activate negative space, and spur an ‘experience that is outside of material concern’ (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, Milan 1998, n.p.).

    In its compellingly simple appearance, Blade calls to mind the visual language of Minimalism, the diminished form of abstraction, and the phenomenological qualities of experiential arts. One may think more specifically of Robert Morris’ daring Untitled, 1965/1971, similarly exploring the intersection between Minimalism and anti-form. Morris’ sculpture, consisting of four mirrored boxes maintained just far enough from one another to enable walking, similarly captures reflections of the outside world into its multiple surfaces, thereby producing complex interactions with the environment in which they are placed. With its immaculate reflective surface and its intriguing, amorphous constitution, Blade also transforms notions of space and self-perception; it asks the viewer to constantly re-evaluate its contours, sides and angles, to fully complete Kapoor’s phenomenological intent.

    Striving to complicate conventional notions of the art object, Kapoor allows for the world around his reflective sculptures to become part of the work itself. Kapoor’s mirrored surfaces do not just reflect the world; rather, they explore the constant flux of reality. Blade invites the viewer to enter a liminal space of continuous becoming – powerfully suspending our experience of the quotidian as the realms of finite and the infinite, inside and outside, depth and surface poetically dissolve.



stainless steel
55 x 106 x 106 cm (21 5/8 x 41 3/4 x 41 3/4 in.)
Executed in 2004, this work is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 1 artist's proof.

£120,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

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Rosanna Widén
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 13 February 2020