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Anish Kapoor CBE RA (born 12 March 1954) is a British sculptor of Indian birth. Born in Mumbai (Bombay),[1][2] Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s where he moved to study art, first at the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art and Design.

He initially began exhibiting as part of New British Sculpture art scene. He went on to exhibit internationally at venues such as the Tate Gallery and Hayward Gallery in London, Kunsthalle Basel, Haus der Kunst Munich, Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, Reina Sofia in Madrid, MAK Vienna, and the ICA Boston. He represented Britain in the XLIV Venice Biennale in 1990, when he was awarded the Premio Duemila Prize. In 1991 he received the Turner Prize. Notable public sculptures include Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago, and Sky Mirror at the Rockefeller Center, New York.

Anish Kapoor is a Royal Academician and was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2003. He is also a Distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.[3]

Early life

Kapoor was raised in an Indian home. His mother was a Jewish immigrant from Baghdad. “My mother was then only a few months old. She had an Indian-Jewish upbringing. Her father, my grandfather, was the cantor in the synagogue in Pune. At the time, the Jewish community in Mumbai was quite large, mostly consisting of Baghdadi Jews.”[4] His father, from a Punjabi family, was a hydrographer in the Indian Navy.[5]

Kapoor spent his early years in India, first in Mumbai, and then in Dehra Dun at the Doon School. During 1971-1973, he went to Israel with one of his two brothers. He first stayed in a kibbutz, and then studied electrical engineering.[4][6] He then left for Britain where he attended Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art and Design.[5]

He achieved widespread recognition when he represented Britain at the 1990 Venice Biennale.[7]

Sky Mirror, Kensington Gardens, London, close up

Kapoor's pieces are frequently simple, curved forms, usually monochromatic and brightly coloured. His early pieces rely on powder pigment to cover the works and the floor around them. Such use of pigment characterised his first high profile exhibit as part of the New Sculpture exhibition at the Hayward Gallery London in 1978. This practice was inspired by the mounds of brightly coloured pigment in the markets and temples of India.[citation needed] His later works are made of solid, quarried stone, many of which have carved apertures and cavities, often alluding to, and playing with, dualities (earth-sky, matter-spirit, lightness-darkness, visible-invisible, conscious-unconscious, male-female and body-mind). His most recent works are mirror-like, reflecting or distorting the viewer and surroundings. The use of red wax is also part of his current repertoire, evocative of flesh, blood and transfiguration.[citation needed]
Svayambh, commonly known as "the train", a huge block of red wax pushed slowly through the gallery, here at the Royal Academy in London.

Kapoor has produced a number of large works, including Taratantara (1999), a 35 metre-tall piece installed in the Baltic Flour Mills in Gateshead, England before renovation began there and Marsyas (2002), a large work of steel and flesh-coloured PVC that reached end to end of the 3,400-square-foot (320 m2) Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. A stone arch by Kapoor is permanently placed at the shore of a lake in Lødingen in northern Norway. In 2000, one of Kapoor's works, Parabolic Waters, consisting of rapidly rotating coloured water, was shown outside the Millennium Dome in London. In 2001, Sky Mirror, a large mirror piece that reflects the sky and surroundings, was commissioned for a site outside the Nottingham Playhouse. Since 2006, Cloud Gate, a 110-ton stainless steel sculpture with a mirror finish, has been permanently installed in Millennium Park in Chicago. Viewers are able to walk beneath the sculpture and look up into an omphalos or navel above them. In the autumn of 2006, a second Sky Mirror, was installed in Rockefeller Center, New York. Soon to be completed are a memorial to the British victims of 9/11 in New York,[8] and the design and construction of two subway stations in Naples.[9] Kapoor has also been commissioned to produce five pieces of public art by Tees Valley Regeneration (TVR)[10] collectively known as the "Tees Valley Giants"[11]

In 2007, he showed Svayambh (which can be roughly translated as 'self-generated'), a 1.5 metre carved block of red wax that moved on rails through the Nantes Musée des Beaux-Arts as part of the Biennale estuaire; this piece was shown again in a major show at the Haus Der Kunst in Munich and in 2009 at the Royal Academy in London. Kapoor's recent work increasingly blurs the boundaries between architecture and art.

In 2008, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston exhibited Kapoor's first U.S. mid-career survey.[12] In the same year, Kapoor created the sculpture "Memory" in Berlin and New York for the Guggenheim Foundation.
Turning the World Upside Down, Jerusalem, Israel Museum

In 2009 Anish Kapoor became the first Guest Artistic Director of Brighton Festival. As well as informing the content of the festival as a whole, Kapoor installed 4 significant sculptures for the duration of the festival; Sky Mirror at Brighton Pavilion gardens, C-Curve at The Chattri, Blood Relations (a collaboration with author Salman Rushdie) and 1000 Names, both at Fabrica. He also created 2 new works: a large site-specific work entitled ‘The Dismemberment of Jeanne d’Arc’ and a performance based installation entitled ‘Imagined Monochrome’. The public response was so overwhelming that police had to re-divert traffic around C Curve at the Chattri and exercise crowd control.

In 2009, Anish Kapoor, Carsten Höller and Giuseppe Penone were asked to create three "permanent, site-specific works in harmony with the light and colors" of Pollino National Park, the largest national park in Italy, as the first edition of project ArtePollino – Another South.[13][14] Kapoor's work, Cinema di Terra (Earth Cinema), in the thermally active spa area of Latronico, is a 45m long, 3m wide and 7m deep cut into the landscape made from concrete and earth.[13] People can enter from both sides and walk along it until they reach a small square from where they can see the landscape from within.[15][14] Cinema di Terra officially opened to public in September 2009.[13]

In 2010 a new Anish Kapoor sculpture called "Turning the World Upside Down, Jerusalem" was commissioned and installed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The sculpture is described as a "16-foot tall polished-steel hourglass" and it "reflects and reverses the Jerusalem sky and the museum's landscape, a likely reference to the city's duality of celestial and earthly, holy and profane."[16]

Kapoor also designed the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 115 metre spiral sculpture of the Olympic rings. Planned to be built in time for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the piece will be the largest example of public art in the UK when completed.[17][18]

In November 2010, Kapoor retrospective exhibitions were held at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in New Delhi and Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio, the first showcase of his work in the country of his birth.[19][20]

When asked if engagement with people and places is the key to successful public art, Kapoor said,
“ I’m thinking about the mythical wonders of the world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Tower of Babel. It’s as if the collective will comes up with something that has resonance on an individual level and so becomes mythic. I can claim to take that as a model for a way of thinking. Art can do it, and I’m going to have a damn good go. I want to occupy the territory, but the territory is an idea and a way of thinking as much as a context that generates objects.[21] ”

His work is collected worldwide, notably by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the De Pont Foundation in Tilburg, Netherlands, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

Kapoor's gallery representations include the Lisson Gallery, London and the Gladstone Gallery, New York.

Architectural projects

Throughout his career, Kapoor has worked extensively with architects and engineers. Kapoor insists that this body of work is neither pure sculpture nor pure architecture. Notable architectural projects include: (i) the recently announced Tees Valley (England) "Giants", the world's five largest sculptures in collaboration with Cecil Balmond of ARUP AGU, (ii) two subway stations in Naples in collaboration with Future Systems, (iii) an unrealised project for the Millennium Dome, London, (1995) in collaboration with Philip Gumuchdjian, (iv) a proposal for the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and (v) "Building for a Void", created for Expo '92, Seville, in collaboration with David Connor. “Taratantara” (1999–2000) was installed at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and later at Piazza Plebiscito, Naples. Kapoor has also completed the massive Dismemberment Stage 1, installed in New Zealand on the private "art park" known as "The Farm" and owned by New Zealand businessman and art patron Alan Gibbs.

Of his vision for the Cumana station in Monte Sant'Angelo, Naples, Italy currently under construction (as of June 2008), Kapoor has said:
“ It’s very vulva-like. The tradition of the Paris or Moscow metro is of palaces of light, underground. I wanted to do exactly the opposite – to acknowledge that we are going underground. So it’s dark, and what I’ve done is bring the tunnel up and roll it over as a form like a sock.[22] ”

Recent and forthcoming exhibitions and projects

Kapoor was the first living British artist to take over the Royal Academy, London, from September 26 - December 11, 2009.[23]

“Shooting into the Corner”, MAK Vienna – 21 January-19 April 2009

"Blood Relations", Fabrica, Brighton 10 April - 24 May 2009

Brighton Festival, 2–23 May 2009

Royal Academy, London - 19 September-11 December 2009

“Memory”, Guggenheim, New York – 9 October 2009

Minini Gallery - Brescia, Italy 26 May 2010

"ArcelorMittal Orbit" - a Giant red tower designed by Kapoor is proposed for the London Olympics in 2012[24][25]

Solo exhibition Guggenheim Bilbao February - October 2010

Serpentine Gallery/Kensington Gardens - London, September 2010 - March 13 2011

National Gallery of Modern Art - New Delhi, December 2010 - February 2011

Mehboob Studio - Mumbai, December 2010 - January 2011

Solo Exhibition - Manchester Art Gallery 5 March - 5 June 2011

Monumenta - Grand Palais, Paris, 11 May-23 June


Kapoor represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, 1990, where he was awarded the Premio Duemila. The following year, he won the prestigious Turner Prize.

Solo exhibitions of his work have been held in the Tate, Royal Academy and Hayward Gallery in London, Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland, Reina Sofia in Madrid, the National Gallery in Ottawa, Musee des arts contemporains (Grand-Hornu) in Belgium, the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Brazil, and the Guggenheim in Bilbao and New York. His work is collected worldwide, notably by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the De Pont Foundation in the Netherlands and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.


1. ^
2. ^
3. ^ "Distinguished Supporters". British Humanist Association. 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
4. ^ a b Weiner, Julia. "Interview: Anish Kapoor is the biggest name in art". Jewish Chronicle, September 24, 2009
5. ^ a b Higgins, Charlotte (8 November 2008). "A life in art: Anish Kapoor". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 April 2010.
6. ^ Finding Everything in the Space of Emptiness
7. ^ Imagine - Winter 2009 - 1. The Year of Anish Kapoor: BBC One, 11:35pm Tuesday 17th November 2009
8. ^ British Memorial Garden
9. ^ Neville Wakefield. "A Colossal Talent"Interior Design, 8/1/2003.
10. ^ Tees Valley Regeneration
11. ^ untitled
12. ^ Sebastian Smee. Anish Kapoor challenges perceptions in a mind-bending show at the ICA. The Boston Globe, May 30, 2008.
13. ^ a b c ""ArtePollino- Another South". Three contemporary artists in the region of Basilicata". UniCredit Group. 2009-09-05. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
14. ^ a b Guadagno, Letizia (2009-11-09). "ARTEPOLLINO UN ALTRO SUD: Immaginazione al potere" (in Italian). ARTKEY. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
15. ^ Pisani, Mario. "ARTEPOLLINO Another South. An Emblematic Project – The Role of Art". Retrieved 7 October 2010.
16. ^ Bronner, Ethan (2010-07-20). "Cleaning Up Intersection of Ancient and Modern". New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
17. ^ John Hall (31 March 2010). "'Mind boggling' artwork that will tower over London". The Independent.
18. ^ "London 2012: Anish Kapoor Orbit tower takes shape". BBC News. 25 February 2011.
19. ^ Arboleda, Yazmany (December 3, 2010). "The Return of the Wizard". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
20. ^ Tyrrel, Rebecca (November 27, 2010). "Anish Kapoor: Look out India, here I come". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-12-08.
21. ^ Sarah Kent (December/January 2008). Mr. Big Stuff. Modern Painters. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
22. ^ Gayford, Martin. "All and Nothing: Anish Kapoor on sexuality, spirituality and capturing emptiness", Apollo (magazine), 2008-06-01. Retrieved on 2009-05-28.
23. ^
24. ^ "Giant red tower to be 2012 centerpiece -". CNN. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
25. ^ Graham-Cumming, John (2 April 2010). "Will the Orbit become London's Eiffel?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 April 2010.

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