Course: Contemporary Art in Context
Artist: Anish Kapoor
Title: Cloud Gate
Year: Built 2004-2006
Location: Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States Dimensions: 10 m × 13 m × 20 m (33 ft × 42 ft × 66 ft) Medium: Stainless steel
About the artist:
Anish Kapoor, one of the world’s most distinguished and significant contemporary artists, was born in Mumbai to a Punjabi-Hindu father and an Iraqi-Jewish mother. He has studied art at the Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art Design. In the 1980s he surfaced as one of the several British sculptors working in an innovative style and gaining global recognition for their work, like Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Anthony Gormley, and Bill Woodrow.
Kapoor's pieces are usually simple, curved forms, sometimes monochrome, and frequently bright and noticeable. An interesting characteristic is also that they are sometimes covered by powdered pigments or some of it is lying around them on the floor. Here the inspiration comes from the coloured powders used in India as Kapoor saw on his visits. His later works are constructed of solid, pitted stone, a lot of which have carved orifices and cavities. The translucent quality of resin, the brightness of pigment and the liquefied reflections of stainless steel and water all express his fascination with darkness and light that is apparent throughout his sculptures. Through this play between form and light, Kapoor evokes sublime experiences for the viewer. Kapoor says, ‘One of the phenomena that I've worked with over many years is darkness. Darkness is an idea that we all know about, in a way an idea about the absence of light. Very simple.’
In the 1990 Kapoor represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, where he received the award of Premio Duemila. The subsequent year he won the esteemed Turner Prize. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held in the Tate and Hayward Gallery in London, Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland, Reina Sofia in Madrid, the National Gallery in Ottawa, and the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux. In 2004, Cloud Gate was inaugurated at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Sculpture cannot continue without originality and creativity. For sculptors it is difficult to come up with a great idea that no one has done before. Anish Kapoor is one of those talented artists who succeed in this with Cloud Gate being his famous masterwork. Cloud Gate is this Kapoor’s first public outdoor work installed in the United States. Inspired by the likeness of liquid mercury, it is made of a 168 seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates welded together, which reflect the Chicago’s famous skyline and the skies above. A 12-foot-high arch-like structure provides an entrance to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, called the “omphalos”, inviting visitors to feel its highly reflective surface and see their image dramatically warped and reflected back from a multiplicity of perspectives.
The sculpture reflects many of Kapoor's imaginative themes although many tourists simply take the sculpture and its unique reflective properties to be a great photo taking prospect.
In 1999, Millennium Park officials and a group of art collectors, curators and architects met to review the proposed sculpture designs by 30 different artists from all over the world. The committee finally selected Kapoor's proposed sculpture over artist Jeff Koons's proposal to erect a permanent 150-foot (46 m) slide at the park. Kapoor's contract also states that the constructed piece was expected to survive for 1000 years. This design, ultimately named Cloud Gate, was inspired by the silver reflective quality of liquid mercury and intended to reflect Chicago's skyline. This sculpture was originally envisioned at the southeast corner of the Lurie Garden, but park officials finally decided to locate it at AT&T Plaza, which is where it currently stands. ...