Anish Kapoor (born 1954) Untitled 2012

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Lot 15* AR W
Anish Kapoor
(born 1954)

Sold for £ 482,500 (US$ 642,634) inc. premium
Anish Kapoor (born 1954)

signed twice and dated 2012 twice on the reverse
stainless steel and lacquer

124.5 by 124.5 by 30 cm.
49 by 49 by 11 13/16 in.


  • Provenance
    Gladstone Gallery, New York
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2012

    Anyone who experiences Untitled, 2012 by Anish Kapoor is immediately struck by its huge presence. A monumental convex mirror, created from a flawless bowl of perfectly polished steel which is then coated with a thin layer of coloured enamel, this is a work of art with a powerful aura. It hangs like something extra-terrestrial; a fiery planet, a roseate setting sun, a huge orb of radiant colour. Its bearing is almost supernatural or holy, with reminiscences of the celestial idols worshiped in centuries past by ancient civilizations.

    Anish Kapoor himself hardly needs any introduction. Now widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his generation, he is also one of the few sculptors who have achieved international recognition to the level of art-world 'superstardom', and as a result has become something of a household name. His circular mirror works are now instantly recognisable, the epitome of his art and the climax of years of experimentation. Perhaps not surprisingly, the process involved in creating these works is long and complex; after all, producing an object which is so perfectly pure, so utterly immaculate and on such a grand scale is never easy. Ultimately for the artist it is important that the viewer looks beyond the sculpture itself and appreciates its visual impact. In order to achieve this, however, absolute perfection is required in the polished metal surface: "The mirroredness, in the right conditions, concave mirroredness, does something to dematerialise the object... they have to be made very well, and it has taken me too many years to make them well enough." (Anish Kapoor in conversation with Andrew Renton, Anish Kapoor, 2011, p. 27). The use of enamel adds, quite literally, another layer to the work, using traditional techniques involving the firing of powdered glass to develop a hard outer shell which is both beautifully bright and absolutely smooth.

    When viewed as an object, one so expertly and artfully fashioned, Untitled of 2012 is an exceptional feat of engineering. But, like Kapoor's ideal viewer, we must see past the intricate construction, and concentrate instead on the vivid and varied sensations that this sculpture creates. Although it inevitably reflects back whatever stands before it, Untitled 2012 distorts, mutates and twists the world around it, the shapes that it holds moving and turning as the viewer approaches or retreats. Of course, it is difficult to look at the work without seeing yourself, and Kapoor is aware of the double-meaning inherent in the words 'self-reflection'. The barrier between subject and object is blurred, both literally and figuratively.
    Stephen Holl attempts to capture the impact of an encounter with the artist's reflective sculptures as follows: "Kapoor confronts us with scale, space, and form, through which our experience suddenly inverts from physical to phenomenal. We find ourselves negotiating space with our legs and arms. A twist and turn of the body opens new perspectives. We feel the light with our skin, smell the qualities of space, and hear the sound of time" ('Perception before cognition' in Anish Kapoor: Memory, 2009, p. 85). Ultimately, however, words can never convey the feelings generated by such an encounter; while it may risk lapsing into cliché to state that this is a work of art which truly has to be seen to be believed, the phrase has perhaps never seemed so apt.

    Colour is also vital here, as the shallow concave flashes back the world in warm rosy hues. Although the enamel coating is uniform across the expanse of the mirror, its ever-changing interplay with the environment that it inhabits produces a multitude of luminous tints; with pinks, reds, mauves and maroons constantly moving across its pristine surface, Untitled is never the same twice. In this it is reminiscent of the paintings of Yves Klein, who, like Kapoor, exploited the visual potential of concentrated pigments, bold monochromes which startle the eyes and lift the spirits.

    Anish Kapoor's art is profound, exploring aspects of spirituality, of perception and of reflection, much like Roy Lichtenstein's mirror paintings. However, Kapoor's exploration of reflection is both literal and metaphysical. His belief that great art can, and indeed should, take on such weighty subjects is deepfelt: "For a long time now [the spiritual] has been a taboo subject... As human beings we have consciousness, and therefore that must be dealt with on some level" (the artist interviewed by William Furlong, on As Kapoor himself suggests, dematerialisation is the purpose; as the recognisable world breaks down, the spiritual can finally emerge. Untitled, 2012 is certainly a remarkable object, but more than that, it is an unforgettable experience, an encounter with colour and form which stretches the senses to their limits, and shifts the world view of anyone who confronts it. The visions created by Anish Kapoor's Untitled, 2012 may be rose-tinted, but the universe that it reveals is anything but safe or nostalgic. It turns the world upside down, and then flips it back again, disrupting perception and inverting reality. To walk towards it is to experience the sublime, to venture into places unknown, to step out of this world into who-knows-where.
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