One of the most acclaimed sculptors working today, Anish Kapoor has exhibited around the world and designed Britain’s largest public sculpture, the Orbit, at the Olympic Park in London. At auction, his art sells for millions of pounds, with his alabaster and mirror pieces among his most desirable works. Here we take a look at some of Kapoor’s recent top results.
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, £1,945,250
Since 1987, Kapoor has been experimenting with carving voids in stones and playing with opposing ideas such as convex and concave, lightness and heaviness, and absence and presence. His Untitled alabaster sculptures show a circular hole carved into both sides of the stone, with only the most delicate screen in between to allow light to glow through. These works, known as the Volterra series, are among his most sought-after artworks at auction.
The most expensive is Untitled, which sold for £1.9 million at Sotheby’s in London on 1 July 2008. It was the first of Kapoor’s double-concave pieces to be offered under the hammer and also the largest, standing almost 2m in height.
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, $2,841,000 (£1.4 million)
The value of Kapoor’s Volterra sculptures increased steadily between 2006-08. Less than a year before the record-breaking sale at Sotheby’s in London, another Untitled sculpture had sold at Sotheby’s in New York on 14 November 2007 for $2.8 million (£1.4 million), far above its $1.5-2 million estimate. The work set an auction record for Kapoor at the time.
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, $2,256,000 (£1.2 million)
A year earlier, at Sotheby’s in New York on 14 November 2006, another version of Untitled was offered for $350,000-450,000. It achieved almost $2.3 million – five times its pre-sale high estimate. Kapoor had just completed his Cloud Gate public sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park in May 2006 and installed his Sky Mirror public sculpture at New York’s Rockefeller Center in the autumn of 2006. These prestigious commissions no doubt increased his reputation and status, as well as the demand for his work.
Turning The World Upside Down #4
Over the last few decades, Kapoor has made many sculptures with the title Turning The World Upside Down, all featuring polished stainless steel mirrors that distort and reverse our vision. Kapoor rarely attaches meaning to his artwork, preferring the pieces to speak for themselves or for viewers to find their own interpretations. “I don’t feel like I have a message to give,” he has said. “One makes the work one makes. And if it’s any good it’ll find a life for itself.”
Anish Kapoor’s Turning The World Upside Down #4 [Edition 3/3], $2,434,500 (£1.5 million)
Within the series, Turning The World Upside Down #4 is the most popular with collectors. This particular work – made in an edition of 3 in 1998 – combines Kapoor’s globes with his signature circular “void”. One edition of Turning The World Upside Down #4 sold at Sotheby’s in New York on 11 November 2009 for $2.4 million (£1.5 million). Another was sold two years later, on 10 May 2011 at Sotheby’s in New York, for $1.8 million (£1.1 million).
Anish Kapoor’s Turning The World Upside Down #4 [Edition 2/3], $1,874,500 (£1.1 million)
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, £1,202,500
“Conceptually [the mirror works] are very confusing. It’s as if one is looking at space, kind of tumbling into itself,” Kapoor once said. His round mirror artworks are now one of his most recognisable pieces, in a variety of steel, copper, reflective and matte colours. The most expensive is a moonlike stainless-steel mirror, which sold for £1.2 million at Christie’s in London on 11 February 2015 – soaring past its £500,000-700,000 pre-sale estimate.
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, £1,071,650
Another high-value mirror artwork is the magenta-coloured Untitled, which realised £1.1 million at Christie’s in London on 30 June 2008. Kapoor has been interested in experimenting with colour throughout his career. “I try to make a condition of colour. It’s not a painted surface, it’s a condition,” he said. “I want something that’s red, in such a way that its redness occupies the whole space of your vision.”
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, $1,805,000 (£1.1 million)
Crafted in copper alloy and lacquer, Untitled was included in the Royal Academy of Art’s acclaimed exhibition Bronze shortly after it was completed in 2012. The show spanned the history of bronze artworks from Ancient Etruscan figurines to sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Louise Bourgeois. With such a notable provenance, Untitled sold for $1.8 million – much higher than its $1-1.5 million estimate – when it was offered at Sotheby’s in New York on 14 May 2014.
Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, £1,142,500
A nod to artist Yves Klein’s ‘International Klein Blue’, the midnight blue Untitled sold for £1.1 million when it was offered at Phillips in London on 27 July 2013. For Kapoor, colour can change a space, “especially very intense monochrome. It’s as if it makes more space”. Along with his interest in reflective, metallic colours, Kapoor has also experimented with matte pigments. The artist made headlines in 2016 when he acquired exclusive rights to Vantablack, the ‘blackest black’ pigment at the time, sparking outrage among other artists for monopolising the paint.
Anish Kapoor’s Alba, £860,500
Alba, named after Kapoor’s daughter, is a unique fuchsia-coloured mirror work from 2003. Red is one of Kapoor’s most frequently used colours, which he has applied to mirror artworks and the curved sculpture Ishi’s Light (named after his son, Ishan), now in the Tate Modern, as well as the huge public sculpture, the Orbit, in London. He has said that he associates his childhood in India with the colour red.
Alba sold for £860,500, against an estimate of £500,000-700,000, at Sotheby’s in London on 27 February 2008.