Share, Listen, Think


In Art on January 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm

There’s something very compelling about sculpture that says come inside and be part of this—engage at some physical level. Art is good at intimacy.”      — Anish Kapoor

By Heila Rogers

People create art for different reasons. To work through feelings, to communicate strong beliefs, to document beauty, or because they feel compelled.

We’re motivated to leave our mark, or to get attention.

Thinking about all of this, I found it fascinating to encounter works by Anish Kapoor.

I was captivated in Chicago, by his sculpture “Cloud Gate.”

It’s his most well-known work, unofficially called “The Bean,” and looks like a completely reflective, one-story drop of mercury. It’s enthralling.

Watch the video below of someone as he approaches the sculpture.

In a large park setting in the middle of downtown Chicago, people walk up to it, touch it, and photograph themselves and their infinite reflections. It’s irresistible. People of all ages forget they’re not alone, gaze into its surface and slowly spin in a circle. It being in public is part of its appeal.

Watch the un-selfconscious interactions in this video:

People approach it wondering, camera’s at the ready. They reach out and touch the smooth, cold surface causing their reflections to appear to reach out and touch back.

Viewers walk underneath, look up and see millions of “themselves” reflected in the curved, shining surface.


Photo by Heila Rogers
Underneath “The Bean”
Chicago, Illinois

One interacts with all art in some way.

Gazing at a painting can stir thoughts and emotions, or simply cause appreciation of technique. Certain music can bring tears or stir memories.

Kapoor’s sculptures got me thinking though. Is it a different kind of interaction, when Kapoor creates a sculpture that intentionally, physically draws in a viewer? A unique kind of sculpture that’s not just permissible to touch, but one where touching it is an integral “part” of it.

Could the meeting, interacting and blending mean that the people then by definition, are a part of the art?

In Atlanta’s High Art museum, Kapoor’s “Light Scoops” are installed into the ceiling of an exhibit room. Natural light from the sky outside flows through round openings shaped like ice cream scoops with their bottoms sliced off. Fuzzy shadows outline each opening.


Photo by Heila Rogers
Light Scoops / Anish Kapoor
High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Another of his works, this one at floor level, is a person-sized, purplish gray bulge. As if a giant punched a wall of slime and it hardened.

Photo by Heila Rogers/High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Photo by Heila Rogers/High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Photo by Heila Rogers/High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Photo by Heila Rogers/High Museum of Art, Atlanta

The cavity beckons. We know it’s just a void but there’s a pull to look inside. I was compelled to walk around and also check out the back. It almost feels alive. Yet it’s certainly not. Something about the shape and the size, and how it’s made seems to speak.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, [Kapoor] was acclaimed for his explorations of matter and non-matter, specifically evoking the void in both freestanding sculptural works and ambitious installations. Many of his sculptures seem to recede into the distance, disappear into the ground or distort the space around them … many … have carved apertures and cavities, often alluding to, and playing with dualities (earth-sky, matter-spirit, lightness-darkness, visible-invisible, conscious-unconscious, male-female and body-mind).”

Another sculpture – an upright, mirrored dish, taller than a person, and made of many small, mirrored triangles, has a mesmerizing audio element. If you stand in front of it and speak softly into the center, your voice is magnified and vibrates across the room. Meanwhile, it splits your image into many shattered, unrecognizable pieces.


Photo by Heila Rogers
“Untitled” by Anish Kapoor
Atlanta – High Museum of Art

William Furlong said about one of his works:

… drawn into it, somehow one is drawn into oneself … because of this endless blackness that one is facing.”

This kind of interaction is unique, and I admire the way it engages.

In the end, I’m talking about myself. And thinking about making nothing, which I see as a void. But then that’s something, even though it really is nothing.”      — Anish Kapoor

Sources: Modern Painters, Nov. 2008, Sarah Kent, Mr. Big Stuff/BOMB Magazine, Spring 1990, Anish Kapoor/

  1. I love The Bean, and it’s so true that it draws people to itself! It’s so shiny and giant and smooth, and you just want to touch it and stare it, and then beyond that there is the whole reflection world to notice. I didn’t know about the artist and I liked seeing/reading about his other works.
    It strikes me that art is supposed to be a conversation. Some artists seem to have the feeling that they make their art and you’re supposed to get their meaning. Or maybe that’s just my thought, though I’m quite sure I’ve run into that idea in relation to art and it isn’t only me….But it seems to me that art at its best is one person putting an idea or thought out there and inviting people to see and respond in some way. And it’s really neat to think that that is part of the art, like you said. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: