Anish Kapoor (b. 1954)
signed and dated 'Anish Kapoor 1997' (on the reverse)
pigment and aluminum
diameter: 30 in. (76.2 cm.)
Executed in 1997.
Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1998

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Alexander Berggruen
Alexander Berggruen

Lot Essay

“As our bodies try to negotiate the temporal and spatial warps set up by [Kapoor’s] sculptures and installations, we are left to confront the uncanny (as well as perhaps our own motivations) in the darkness of the cave.” (S. Poddar, “Suspending Disbelief: Anish Kapoor’s Mental Sculpture,” in Anish Kapoor: Memory, exh. cat., Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 2009, p. 28)

From his earliest works of the late 1970s when he began using vibrant colored pigment to bestow enigmatic sculptural forms with a disquieting sense of mystery and ambiguity, Anish Kapoor has been fascinated by the mysterious power of color to transform and redefine the way we perceive and understand objects. Kapoor has noted, “with the early powder pieces, one of the things I was trying to do was to arrive at something which was as if unmade, as if self-manifest, as if there by its own volition” (A. Kapoor, quoted in G. Celant, “Artist as Sacerdos,” in Anish Kapoor, exh. cat., Fondazione Prada, Milan, 1996, p. 12).

Through its alluring convex form, which harnesses and recalls the aesthetic of rich pigment from his early practice, the present Untitled from 1996 at first appears like a spherical blue vortex within the space of the room in which it resides. In this respect, the sculpture, like many of Kapoor's works, has a strong impact on the architecture that houses the work. Drawing the viewer inward through its mesmerizing color and circular form, the work also appears to unveil a new world within itself in almost operatic melodrama all rendered in a field of deep, brilliant blue. As art historian and curator Sandhini Poddar has noted, “Kapoor’s objects are riddled with paradoxes, manifesting an open-ended, equivocal, and propositional style. They arouse our sense of touch, and yet prohibit this desire. We are lured into his fictive spaces where concealment and revelation coexist—where the non-existent and existent, the formless and form, chaos and creation each play a part.” (S. Poddar, “Suspending Disbelief: Anish Kapoor’s Mental Sculpture,” in Anish Kapoor: Memory, exh. cat., Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 2009, p. 28).

Untitled’s lavish blue coloring bestows the scene with a vibrant and visceral atmosphere—a quality that in recent years has grown increasingly pronounced in Kapoor's work. In fixating the viewer’s focus in its aperture, Untitled also emphasizes the illusive nature of all appearances, revealing the world as a stage or pantomime.

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