Anish Kapoor is a master at making material seem immaterial and vice versa, a quality that inspires revelation in those who experience his work. In a review in Artforum of a solo show at New York’s Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Donald Kuspit describes coming into contact with Kapoor’s sculpture Whiteout. “It seemed oddly vacuous. Like a doubting Thomas, I touched it, and lo and behold, there was nothing to touch: My arm went right through its ‘side,’ into a void. I had been blind to it, but when my arm was in the sculpture I was able to discern that its surface was concave—an oddly lingering inward curve.” Later in the article, Kuspit concludes that Kapoor’s sculptures “are abstract representations of the curvature of the universe, and like the universe, the sculptures confound the eye. We are initially blind to the curve, then ‘see’ it as though in a moment of revelation. This paradoxical double vision—the representation of the ‘scientifically’ curved universe and of the moment of altered consciousness—is as close as it is possible to get to the void on artistic earth.”
Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954 to a Punjabi-Hindu father and a Baghdadi-Jewish mother. As a young man, he attended the prestigious Doon School in Dehra Dun, India. He moved to England in 1972 where he studied at the Hornsey College of Art and the Chelsea College of Art and Design. Kapoor gained international recognition in the early 1980s as part of a group of British sculptors working in a new, minimal style. He still resides in London and visits India frequently.
Kapoor often produces sculptures so large that it is necessary to experience them physically—by walking around them or, as Donald Kuspit did, by touching them. Kapoor also works two-dimensionally. Between 1988 and 1991, Kapoor completed twenty-three etchings and two woodcuts with Crown Point Press. The shapes depicted within them have the kind of palpable, invisible energy of gravity or magnetism.
In 1990, Kapoor represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and was awarded the Premio Duemila. He won the prestigious Turner Prize in Britain the following year. In an informal competition through the Tate Modern to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Turner Prize, he was voted the Best British Artist of the last twenty years. In 2009, Kapoor became the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. He won the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale award for sculpture in 2011 and in 2013 he received knighthood for his services to visual arts. In 2017, he was announced as the recipient of the $1 million Genesis Prize. In 2020, the largest UK exhibition of Kapoor’s outdoor sculptures was held at Houghton Hall.
Anish Kapoor is represented by the Lisson Gallery in London. His work has been in major one-person and group exhibitions around the world. His public commissions include Cloud Gate (colloquially known as the “Bean”) in Millennium Park, Chicago; Cast Iron Mountain at the Faret Tachikawa Art Project, Japan; ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park; and Turning the World Upside Down at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Kapoor has had solo shows in London at the Tate Modern and the Hayward Gallery, in Belgium at the Musée des Arts Contemporains, and in Bordeaux at the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art. His work is in the collections of museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern, the Guggenheim Bilbao, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.
-Rachel Lyon, Crown Point Press