Anish Kapoor — Versailles



Anish Kapoor

Past: June 9 → November 1, 2015

Anish Kapoor is the artist selected by Catherine Pégard for the summer 2015 exhibition in Versailles. The sculptor’s creations are very diverse, always intriguing, often destabilizing; he will deploy a selection of works, several of which are new, mainly in the gardens, but also for the first time since contemporary artists are invited to exhibit their work in Versailles, in the historical Jeu de Paume, with a spectacular installation.

The French public discovered Anish Kapoor’s gigantic Leviathan at the Grand Palais in 2011, an immense inflatable dark membrane structure, which could be both penetrated and viewed from the outside, creating as much a physical experience as an aesthetic shock for all who were confronted to it.

In Versailles, Kapoor is creating a project completely designed for this historical environment; for him, the entire exhibition must fully reflect all aspects of history. Both Le Nôtre’s genius and the historical events that unfolded in these prestigious sites inspired his creations which will stand in the perspective of the Grand Canal, but also in the groves and in the Jeu de Paume.

Anish kapoor dismemberment site medium
Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment Site I, 2009 25 × 84 m Photo © Jos Wheeler

Born in Mumbai, Anish Kapoor is one of the major British artists of his generation. His Indian origin strongly influenced his beginnings as a sculptor. At the beginning of the 1980s, in his first works, he used strong-colored powdered pigments, their intense reds, yellows and blues overflowing over the ground. The enigmatic shapes they covered evoked small, imaginary architectures or biomorphic forms. These first sculptures marked Kapoor from his beginnings as an artist who associates some degree of minimalist heritage to the organic and natural shapes he has since then continuously further developed.

Pigment is still a medium often used by the artist, who gives color an importance rare among sculptors. He deposits it within cavities carved out in stone, thus creating a mysterious void that the viewer cannot grasp easily. Also, when he uses large-sized curved and polished mirrors, the architecture or the scenery reflected in them shows an unstable and changing world, deconstructing the surrounding space. Homi K.Bhabha calls them “elusive objects”.

Anish kapoor shooting into the corner medium
Anish Kapoor, Shooting in the corner, 2008-2009, 0 Variable dimensions Photo © Dave Morgan

The fascination we can experience before these sculptures goes together with a feeling of disturbing strangeness. Kapoor has stated : “I do not want to make sculpture about form — I wish to make sculpture about belief, or about passion, about experience.” Exposing the void, insisting on contrasts, experimenting with new materials, while sometimes taking the risk of a certain violence in the result, characterize Kapoor’s sculpture. Attracted by everything linked to the body, he’s interested in the hidden aspect of objects, in the negative of shape. The viewer is sometimes invited to penetrate within sculptures, which are then small architectures, to experience their interiority and to see the surprising spaces hidden from outside revealed.

The experience to which the artist aspires can also be interpreted in charged materials such as thick blood-colored wax, evocative of flesh and entrails. Evocative of reality, without ever being figurative, Kapoor’s sculpture is a “landscape of the body”. The oppositions between the rough and the polished, the full and the void, the mass and the absence of mass are central in his approach.

Kapoor is an artist of monumentality, he has created many extraordinarily striking site specific works, from Chicago to Jerusalem; his approach in Versailles is ambitious and clear, he revives through the chosen sculptures some of the themes which have fed the imagination of the centuries which unfolded here : the magic of ruins, the energy of flowing waters, the symbolic strength of the sun, the secret of the groves, the reflection of mirrors, the conquest of freedom.

Alfred Pacquement, curator of the exhibition

78 Yvelines Zoom in 78 Yvelines Zoom out

Place d’Armes

78000 Versailles

Opening hours

Every day except Monday, 9 AM – 6:30 PM
The garden is open every days from 8am to 8.30pm

Admission fee

Full rate €13,50 — Concessions €10.00

Concession fee after 3pm

The artist