Airport, please! heading to view Sir Anish Kapoor’s installations, Palazzo Pruili Manfrin, Venice and Wuppertal Sculpture Park, Germany

by leslierankowfinearts

Anish Kapoor



Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor maneuvers between vastly different scales, across numerous series of work. Immense PVC skins, stretched or deflated; concave or convex mirrors whose reflections attract and swallow the viewer; recesses carved in stone and pigmented so as to disappear: these voids and protrusions summon up deep-felt metaphysical polarities of presence and absence, concealment and revelation. Forms turn themselves inside out, womb- like, and materials are not painted but impregnated with color, as if to negate the idea of an outer surface, inviting the viewer to the inner reaches of the imagination. Kapoor’s geometric forms from the early 1980s, for example, rise up from the floor and appear to be made of pure pigment, while the viscous, blood-red wax sculptures from the last ten years – kinetic and self-generating – ravage their own surfaces and explode the quiet of the gallery environment. There are resonances with mythologies of the ancient world – Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman – and with modern times.

Palazzo Priuli Manfrin


The Palazzo Priuli Manfrin, in Venice, was purchased four years ago by the artist Anish Kapoor. It was constructed in the sixteenth century for the aristocratic Priuli family, but it is thanks to the efforts of a later owner, Girolamo Manfrin, that the palazzo has its storied place in Venetian art history. Manfrin was an outsider from Dalmatia—born “in the midst of mud and shit,” as one detractor put it—who amassed a fortune in the tobacco trade. He bought the palazzo, which featured a ballroom with a thirty-foot-high frescoed ceiling, in the late seventeen-eighties. Manfrin wanted to decorate his new home with “pictures of the highest quality,” but, not being a connoisseur, he had advisers find him paintings by such masters as Mantegna, Giorgione, and Tiepolo. Manfrin boasted of acquiring masterpieces “without paying any attention to the expense involved,” and his expenditures had the desired result: the palazzo became a required destination for any cultivated visitor to Venice, and remained so after his death, in 1801. Three decades later, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote that “the collection is in every respect magnificent, and deserves many visits.”

http://Anish Kapoor, Material Values, The New Yorker, August 15, 2022

Manfrin’s art was sold off in the late nineteenth century, with many works going to Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia. Thereafter, the palazzo changed hands repeatedly, and eventually fell into dilapidation. By the end of the twentieth century, the building was serving as a convent for a community of nuns, who had converted its upper floors into monastic cells. By 2012, it was deserted and on the market for twenty million euros: a crumbling fixer-upper with faded frescoes and a courtyard that, if not quite filled with mud and shit, was prone to frequent flooding.

Anish Kapoor


Famous for his use of abstract biomorphic forms and his penchant for rich colours and polished surfaces, Anish Kapoor was the first living artist to be given a solo show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Born to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother from Baghdad, Kapoor had an Indian- Jewish upbringing. He was educated in the prestigious all- boys boarding school, The Doon School in Dehradun, India and in 1971 moved to Israel to live in a kibbutz. He later began his study in electrical engineering and after finding out that the discipline is not for him, he quitafter 6 months. While in Israel he decided to become an artist, he soon moved to Great Britain to attend Hornsey College of Art (1973-77) and Chelsea School of Art and Design (1977-78). He went on to teach at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in 1979 and in 1982 was Artist in Residence at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. During a return visit to India in 1979, he had sparked a new perspective on the land of his birth and started on his early sculptures. Characterized by simple and curved forms, usually monochromatic and brightly colored, he used powdered pigment to define and percolate the architectural forms with the loose pigments spilled beyond the object itself and onto the floor or wall. With this methodology, Kapoor produced bodies of work such as 1000 Names which became part of his first high-profile exhibit in the New Sculpture exhibition at the Hayward Gallery London in 1978.

Kapoor, who was born in Mumbai in 1954, and has lived in Britain since the early seventies, is the kind of blue-chip artist who, had he been working in the eighteenth century, might have sold some pieces to Manfrin’s advisers. Kapoor is best known for works that explore the interplay of mass and void, and for beguiling experiments with optics. His sculptures induce both awe and disquiet. His mirrored works—in particular, concave disks that measure several feet across and cast complex patterns of reflection—have regularly been snapped up by collectors at art fairs ever since he started making them, in the late eighties. The mirror sculptures not only create a destabilizing aura; they reflect light and sound in ways that tend to enhance whatever room they are displayed in. Museums and foundations have an equally large appetite for what Kapoor calls “non-objects”—such as twisted stainless-steel works so reflective that their shapes are hard to discern—and also for sculptures, made from natural materials like sandstone or alabaster, that are punctured with mysterious holes.

Although these signature pieces are alluring, some of Kapoor’s work is alarming, even repulsive. For an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London, in 2009—the first solo show there by a living artist— he presented “Grayman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked,” an array of lumpy forms made from coils of concrete extruded from a 3-D printer. Kapoor’s working title for this installation was “Between Shit and Architecture.” In 2015, the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam, displayed his “Internal Object in Three Parts,” a triptych of canvases thickly encrusted with red and white silicone that evoked freshly slaughtered viscera. One of his most celebrated works, “Shooting Into the Corner,” consists of a cannon that fires off bucket-size cannisters of blood-colored wax at regularly timed intervals; Kapoor has spattered the walls of many a museum with his gory goop.

Turbine Hall
Anish Kapoor

Kapoor has often embraced the challenge of working on an enormous scale. In 2002, he became the third artist to receive a commission from the Tate Modern, in London, to create an installation for the gigantic Turbine Hall, part of a former power station. In collaboration with the architect and engineer Cecil Balmond, Kapoor installed a vast red membrane— manufactured in France, by a company that usually makes coverings for sports stadiums—then stretched it over and between three giant steel rings. The work, which fully occupied the daunting space, was titled “Marsyas”—an allusion to the myth, also depicted by Titian, in which a satyr is flayed for defying Apollo. Even for those visitors for whom the reference was unfamiliar, the work still packed a wallop. “It looked like some part of the body, except you were not really sure what it was,” Donna De Salvo, who curated the installation, and is now at the dia Foundation, in New York, told me. “Anish’s view of things is deeply rooted in the physical, the bodily, the psychological, and in how those things intersect.” In 2009, in Kaipara, New Zealand, he inserted an even larger steel-and-membrane sculpture, “Dismemberment, Site I,” into a hilly landscape; shaped like a double-sided trumpet, the work, which is more than eighty feet tall, resonates with the wind.

Anish Kapoor Dismemberment, Site 1 Kaipara, New Zealand

These large pieces were praised for creating in the viewer an almost terrifying sense of immersion—and an inescapable confrontation with mortality. Some of Kapoor’s creations, however, can tip over into bombast. In 2010, in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he was commissioned to make the U.K.’s tallest public work of sculpture: the ArcelorMittal Tower, named for the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who helped finance its construction. Designed in concert with Balmond, and three hundred and seventy-six feet in height, it is a swirling network of red-painted steel tubes that might, poetically, be said to resemble the arterial system of the flayed Marsyas; the sculpture was more commonly compared to a tangled hookah pipe. One wit dubbed it the Eyeful Tower. In 2015, in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, Kapoor installed a colossal structure, resembling a funnel laid on its side, fabricated from Corten steel. He declared that the work, titled “Dirty Corner,” was “very sexual”—something that could be said of much of his œuvre. The sculpture appalled rather than seduced many onlookers, though, and vandals repeatedly covered it in graffiti. The French press renamed the work “le vagin de la reine.”

Void Field 1989
Anish Kapoor

In the 1980s, Kapoor became know for his geometric sculptures using materials such as granite, limestone, marble, pigment, and plaster. His works begun to show his explorations of matter and non-matter,

Void Field (1990)specifically evoking the void in both freestanding sculptural works and ambitious installations. Many of his sculptures seems to distort distance and space around them. By 1987, he was working with quarried stones from which he carves cavities and apertures on in a play with the dualities of nature. Kapoor’s big break came in 1990 when he was chosen to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. His installation, Void Field, received huge acclaim and catapulted him to prominence and recognition. His success continued and in the following year he was honored the Turner Prize, a prestigious award for contemporary art. With the accolades, he was increasingly recognized and respected in the world of art.

Starting 1995, he has worked with the highly reflective surface of polished stainless steel. These works are mirror like, reflecting or distorting the viewer and surroundings.

‘Anish Kapoor: Sculptures’ at Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden, Wuppertal, Germany

12 August 2022

On Saturday 13 August, Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden opens a presentation of monumental sculpture from the past decade by Anish Kapoor in its Central Exhibition Hall.

Since the 1970s, Anish Kapoor has embodied the artistic search for the ‘non-object’ that oscillates between the physical and the non-physical. Many of his objects play with our notions of perception not only through a transgression of negative and positive form but through the absorption or reflection of light on their surface. Kapoor has also achieved renown for his monumental sculptures; overpowering by virtue of their sheer scale, they obscure the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. His newer works, many site-specific, play with metaphysical opposites and encourage an immediate and direct personal experience of transcendence.

Anish Kapoor
Sectional body preparing for Monadic Singularity, 2015

Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden was established by artist Tony Cragg in 2008 under the auspices of the Cragg Foundation.


It was thanks to the private initiative of Tony Cragg, a British sculptor living in Wuppertal, that the Sculpture Park was founded and established. Thirty years after Cragg took up his exhibition activity, he began looking for a permanent site for presenting sculpture outdoors and discovered the abandoned Waldfrieden property, which he bought in 2006. That very same year he began redesigning the park grounds and the buildings that, after long years of vacancy, needed to be thoroughly renovated and modernized. In appreciation of the historical estate, its former structures and material substance were preserved to the greatest extent possible, thus keeping its historical dimension intact despite the conversion of the park and buildings to accommodate their new use. In 2008, the Sculpture Park was opened under the auspices of the Cragg family’s nonprofit foundation. It houses a steadily growing collection of sculptures, including examples from Tony Cragg’s own large oeuvre. All is accompanied by changing exhibitions of internationally known artists, lectures on culture and the humanities, as well as concerts. Beyond this, the Cragg Foundation is also dedicated to research on, and the publication of, the subject of the fine arts.

Interestingly, both artists purchased  important palatial spaces and parks to best exhibit their works  and to establish the importance of monumental sculptures as venues for their work. It is a stunning experience to walk these expansive spaces and confront their works in the natural terrain.

Anish Kapoor