Past: May 12 → June 11, 2011
This spring (2011), the British artist Anish Kapoor is overseeing several ambitious projects in Paris. As part of the Monumenta programme, his large sculpture Leviathan will fill the space beneath the glass roof of the Grand Palais (11 May — 23 June). Simultaneously, at galerie kamel mennour, the artist will be exhibiting a selection of works based on the idea of immateriality (12 May — 23 July).
Anish Kapoor is also taking over the chapel of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts. The artist will be installing a series of his recent sculptures made of cement in the nave of this venerable building. These tall, grey, hollowed-out towers are presented in the guise of proto-architecture, kinds of edifices from the dawn of humanity, resembling, among other things, the brick ziggurats of Mesopotamia. In one sense, they are a reaffirmation of the spirit animating the pigment works that made the artist famous in the early 1980s. In spite of their hand-crafted appearance, these Cement Works were conceived with the help of a piece of software, while a machine, extruding and laying down the substance, was responsible for their construction. These works bear witness to the artist’s interest in self-generation, a concept inherited from the Sanskrit word svayambh. In essence, Anish Kapoor’s sculptures give the sensation of not having been created by human hand and of having always been there, following the example of certain astoundingly beautiful forms built up over thousands of years by the forces of nature: one thinks of coral mounds or certain rocky outcrops… “Everything starts with the body”, declares Anish Kapoor. This explains why these works also have an organic dimension, already inherent in the red wax sculptures produced over the last ten years. The Cement Works evoke the coiling-up of intestines.
The chapel of the beaux-arts, where the Museum of French Monuments was created in 1791, houses a stupendous collection of copies of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures, notably Michelangelo’s Last Judgement and Verrochio’s Colleoni. The contrast between Anish Kapoor’s forms — archaic and yet created with the help of the latest technology — and what is considered to be the highest refinement of Western civilisation will be a violent one. Without any doubt, it will bring into question the nature of what we call art.
Born in Bombay in 1954, he has lived in London since the 1970s. His work rapidly gained international recognition and has been awarded numerous prizes, including the famous Turner Prize, which he won in 1991. His career has been the subject of a number of solo exhibitions at the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Louvre, the Royal Academy, Tate Modern, etc. Recently, he has been commissioned to design the key landmark for the forthcoming Olympic Games in London: a 116-metre-high sculpture entitled “Orbit”.
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