Anish Kapoor - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Anish Kapoor, 'Untitled', Lot 16

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 2 October 2019

  • Provenance

    Lisson Gallery, London
    Private Collection, France
    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Phillips, London, 27 June 2013, lot 11
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 30 April - 14 June 1998, p. 120 (illustrated, p. 61)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Immersing the viewer in its infinite vortex of rich and sublime midnight blue, Untitled, 1996, is an exceptional example of Anish Kapoor’s wall pigment works. Bridging the gap between physical and psychological space, Kapoor’s wall works of the 1980s and 1990s are intimate precursors to his monumental public installations that have brought him worldwide acclaim. Embodying Kapoor’s philosophical and poetic artistic vision, Untitled is a celebration of both space and materiality, inviting the viewer to meditate upon the mystery and beauty of its immaculate hallowed surface.

    Born in India to parents of Punjabi and Iraqi-Jewish heritage, Kapoor moved to London during the 1970s. Following a return visit to his birthplace in 1979, Kapoor became captivated by the resonance and infinite symbolism of primary colours in their raw state; he worked with highly saturated pigments throughout the 1980s, applying loose powders to geometrical and architectural forms, often letting the pigment disperse onto the floor. It was only in 1989 that he began to use them to cover large-scale sculptures suspended on the wall. Kapoor has described how ‘An essential issue in my work is that the scale always relates to the body. In the pigment works from 1979 to 1983 a sense of place was generated between objects. This place has now moved inside the object so it has been necessary to change the scale. The place within is a mind/body space. A shrine for a person’ (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., British Council for the XLIV Venice Biennale, London, 1990, p. 50). Playing with the powerful tension between positive and negative space, the present work carves the surrounding environment with its elegant surface, beckoning the viewer to enter a calm abyss. Reminiscent of the lapis lazuli used to paint the Madonna’s robes in medieval paintings, Kapoor’s interest in spirituality comes to the fore in Untitled as its seemingly limitless plane directly confronts the viewer and invites deep contemplation. Its saturated and impermeable palette also recalls the work of Yves Klein, who sought to simulate sublime transcendence by overpowering the viewer with vast monochromatic fields of ultramarine blue.

    Whilst Klein attempted to bring about this spiritual meditation through the ultimately flat medium of paint, Kapoor’s decision to craft a physical, three-dimensional expression of the void demonstrates his highly innovative sculptural approach towards the articulation of space. The idea with these wall works, Kapoor has explained, is ‘to make an object which is not an object, to make a hole in the space, to make something which actually does not exist’ (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Constance Lewallen, ‘Anish Kapoor’, View, vol. 8, no. 4, 1991). Untitled presents an opening between light and darkness, a distorted space in which human beings can lose themselves and fall. In the artist’s own words, ‘Void is really a state within. It has a lot to do with fear, in Oedipal terms, but more so with darkness. There is nothing so black as the black within. No blackness is as black as that. I am aware of the phenomenological presence of the void works but I am also aware of that phenomenological experience on its own is insufficient. I find myself coming back to the idea of narrative without storytelling, to that which allows one to bring in psychology, fear, death, love in as direct a way as possible. The void is not something which is no utterance. It is a potential space, not a non-space’ (Anish Kapoor, quoted in Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, London, 1996, p. 24). As it relentlessly pulls its audience into infinite space, Kapoor’s sublime wall work draws attention to our own humanity. With the present work, the artist grants his viewers the psychological and physical space to reflect upon their own being.



aluminium and pigment
200.7 x 200.7 x 25.4 cm (79 x 79 x 10 in.)
Executed in 1996.

£500,000 - 700,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £569,000

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Senior Director
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


Rosanna Widén
Director, Senior Specialist
+44 20 7318 4060

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 October 2019