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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/


Performance Art & Flash Mobs

In Art, Life in Society, Music on December 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The Hallelujah Chorus in the Food Court one.  The “Doe, a Deer” one, dancing in the train station.  What is it about these flash mobs that moves us?

I think part of it is a breaking through of the disconnect that we experience in large public spaces, or maybe in life.

Also, it’s a gift.  From the participants to the watchers.  A raw, pure form of art in that way.  Free, meant to give pleasure.  The participants (artists) practice and refine their creation.

The other thing that I can figure out , is that it invites involvement.  Formal boundaries between “artist” and “audience” are blurred if not obliterated.  There’s an implicit invitation to participate.

The watchers are a part of it.

People are free to smile, videotape, cover their mouths in shock, or dance.

Some people run away, too, I think.  Or are confused and leave.

What do you think?

What about the sneaky, surprise element?

The second one of these was a kind of publicity stunt.

Food Court Hallelujah Chorus

Train Station Do Re Mi

Plus there’s the element of the unexpected — both location and activity.

Or are these “smart mobs?”  Which are “mobs” and which are performance art?

What about the disruption of business or normal public activity?

Evidently Germany has outlawed them.

~ HR

By Spike Dolomite

Crop Circles

In Art, Life in Society, Nature on November 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Unsigned, gigantic, corporate, public art interacting with nature.

Attributed to the mystical or the alien.

The nature of human beings wanting to worship … something, anything.

Described as phenomenon.

People sit in them and expect to receive healing.

Unquestionably fascinating and beautiful.

Creators hide their identity.

Clip from National Geographic report about crop circles.

~ HR

“Artistic Crime”

In Art, Life in Society on November 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

In 1974 after the recent completion of the World Trade Center, Philippe Petit after months of planning and spying with accomplices, snuck in and wire-walked between the top of the towers.

Is this art?

He was arrested immediately afterwards.

One of the officers, Sgt. Charles Daniels remembers,

“I observed the tightrope ‘dancer’—because you couldn’t call him a ‘walker’—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire….And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle….He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again….Unbelievable really….Everybody was spellbound in the watching of it.”    (Wikipedia)

Was his disregard for and insult of the policemen justified?

“As a child I loved to climb everywhere.  I’ll let the psychiatrist decide why.  Maybe I wanted to escape my time.  Maybe I wanted to see the world from a different perspective and I was an explorer at heart.  Who knows and who cares, but I was a little climber.  And nobody, not my parents, not my teachers, nobody could stop me.” (Man on Wire)

Annie Allix his girlfriend at the time –
“There was always and still is, this ‘bad boy’ side to Philippe’s character.  He had a very strict upbringing and he would never have strayed too far down that illegal road but he got great pleasure from taking certain ‘liberties.’  He’s so excessive, so creative, so each day is like a work of art for him.  What excited him most about this adventure, aside from being a beautiful show, was that it was like a bank robbery and that pleased him enormously.  (Man on Wire)

On the rope, he told [an interviewer], he lives intensely. He doesn’t think of anything, he just lives.  (Murphy Williams, The Telegraph)

He calls himself a “poet in the sky.”

But what about the selfishness of his actions?  What about the fact that he essentially holds people hostage with the threat of his death?  Or is there really much risk, since he is so practiced and focused?  How does this differ from a ‘regular’ suicide attempt or threat?  If the definition of art is pushing boundaries, where does respect for others come in?

Traffic was stopped up and probably dangerous situations were created during the performance of his stunts.  What do you think about the fact that all charges against him were later dropped and he was basically given the keys to the city of New York?  And deemed a high-wire artist?

What about the question, “Is all art performance art?”

Philippe says,“[What really attracts me; [is] the challenge part of doing something that’s supposed to be impossible, and in the meantime doing something that’s so beautiful that not only doesn’t hurt anybody, but gives something to somebody.”  (Man on Wire)

~ HR