Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror

Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror is a breathtaking, 35-foot-diameter concave mirror made of polished stainless steel. Standing nearly three stories tall at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center, Sky Mirror offers a dazzling experience of light and architecture, presenting viewers with a vivid inversion of the skyline featuring the historic landmark building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Sky Mirror is on view, free and open to the public, from September 19th through October 27th, 2006. This exhibition is presented by Tumi, organized by the Public Art Fund and hosted by Rockefeller Center owner Tishman Speyer.

An urban, contemporary, and ever-changing aesthetic variation on the 18th-century landscape painting tradition, Sky Mirror literally brings the sky down to the ground. The large, 23-ton circular stainless steel sculpture is installed on a platform a few feet above street level. Its concave side, angled upward, faces 30 Rockefeller Plaza, reflecting an upside-down portrait of this elegant and iconic New York City skyscraper and the shifting sky around it. Its convex side, facing Fifth Avenue reflects a more earthly vision: viewers in the midst of the adjacent streetscape. This optical object changes through the day and night and is an example of what Kapoor describes as a “non-object,” a sculpture that, despite its monumentality, suggests a window or void and often seems to vanish into its surroundings.

Anish Kapoor is one of the foremost artists of our time. He first became known in the 1980s for his geometric or biomorphic sculptures made using simple—often elemental—materials such as granite, limestone, marble, pigment and plaster. His sculptures extend the formal precepts of minimalism into an intensely spiritual and psychological realm, drawing viewers in with their rich colors, sensuously refined surfaces, and startling optical effects of depth and dimension. Since the mid-1990s he has explored the notion of the void, creating works that seem to—and sometimes do—recede into the distance, disappear into walls or floors, or otherwise destabilize our assumptions about the physical world. They give visceral and immediate impact to abstract dualities such as presence and absence, infinity and illusion, solidity and intangibility.

Kapoor is focused on the active or transformative properties of the materials he uses. “I am really interested in the ‘non-object’ or the ‘non-material.’ I have made objects in which things are not what they at first seem to be. A stone may lose its weight or a mirrored object may so camouflage itself in its surroundings as to appear like a hole in space,” says Kapoor. From works such as Turning the World Inside Out (1995) to the massive 125-ton sculpture Cloud Gate (2004) on permanent display in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Kapoor’s reflective sculptures engage audiences directly, fusing object, viewer, and environment into one physical, constantly fluctuating form.

About the artist
Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954, and currently lives and works in London. He attended the Hornsey College of Art (1973-77) and Chelsea School of Art, London (1977-78). Kapoor is one of a generation of British sculptors, along with fellow British sculptors Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon, who gained critical recognition in the 1980s and who share an interest in materials and use of abstract, organic form. In his early series 1000 Names (1989-90), the artist focused on geometry and color, installing arrangements of semi-circles, planes and other shapes coated in particles of bright pigment. In 1990 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale with Void Field , an installation of rough sandstone blocks topped with black holes, and over the course of the decade his sculptures ventured into more ambitious, increasingly sublime manipulations of form and space. He won the Turner Prize in 1991 and in 2002 received the prestigious Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London.

Among his major permanent commissions is Cloud Gate (2004) for the Millennium Park in Chicago. Major solo exhibitions throughout his career have taken place at MAC Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2004); Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2004); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2003); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (1999); Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples (1999); Hayward Gallery, London (1998); and Fondazione Prada, Milano (1995). Kapoor is represented by Gladstone Gallery in New York.

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