Lot 33
  • 33

Anish Kapoor

450,000 - 650,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Anish Kapoor
  • Turning the World Upside Down
  • signed and dated 2003 on the interior of the base on the reverse; incised with the artist’s signature and dated 2003 on the exterior of the base on the reverse
  • stainless steel
  • 149.9 by 149.9 by 31.7cm.; 59 by 59 by 12 1/2 in.


Acquired directly from the artist in 2009

Catalogue Note

Anish Kapoor's Turning the World Upside Down serves as a fantastical mirror of its immediate surroundings whilst reflecting and intriguingly inverting its ambient space. Forming part of Kapoor’s iconic series of wall-mounted mirror sculptures, the present work can arguably be seen as a pinnacle of this highly esteemed corpus, acting as a true mirror on the world with its gleaming silver surface. In its purity of mirrored hue, the present work anticipates two of Kapoor’s most celebrated large-scale works, Cloud Gate, on view in Millennium Park, Chicago (2004) and Sky Mirror, installed at the Rockefeller Centre in New York (2006). Turning the World Upside Down distorts the viewer’s perspective, encouraging an entirely different viewpoint of the space that we inhabit. The manipulation of space has been one of Kapoor’s primary concerns throughout his career, and the artist has sought to investigate the non-material possibilities of the void through his diverse body of work. Homi K. Bhabha has written eloquently of Kapoor’s mirrored works, noting that “the mirror’s magic reduces both the depth and the weight of the world into a skin that floats on the surface of the steel, emphasising the nothingness of the object itself” (Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Anish Kapoor: Making Emptiness’ in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, The Royal Academy of Arts, Anish Kapoor, 2009, p. 174).

Through its panoramic vision Turning the World Upside Down poetically embodies the reflective powers of art and captures the alchemy of creation. As the viewer circumnavigates the piece, their perspective alters: not only does every onlooker perceive the work slightly differently, but, by placing themselves within the mirrored reflection, they become an integral part of the work itself. Norman Rosenthal notes that the artist refers to his sculptures as being: “‘Self-generated’… Even when he is absent, it is constantly changing and re-inventing itself” (Norman Rosenthal, ‘Svayambh’ in: ibid., p. 47). Indeed, the present work continually reacts to its immediate environment, effectively and totally reversing the world around it in its entirety.

Turning the World Upside Down also invites intriguing connections with the ideal of the Sublime, in particular the post-modern concept as posited by Jean-François Lyotard. Lyotard argued that certain examples of contemporary art sought to represent ideas or themes which were impossible to truly delineate in physical form, thus arousing sensations of awe and bewilderment in the viewer as we are forced to confront concepts our mind is unable to truly comprehend. The shimmering surfaces and the curved space of Kapoor’s mirror installations induce an almost indefinable sense of disorienting arrest, not only cognitively but also physically and spatially. Indeed, the contemporary Sublime has been of abiding fascination for Kapoor throughout his career, and the artist has spoken of the importance of the concept within his work: “I have always been drawn to a notion of fear, towards a sensation of vertigo, of falling, of being pulled inwards. This is a notion of the sublime which reverses the picture of union with light” (Anish Kapoor quoted in: Camiel van Winkel, ‘On the Sublime in the Work of Anish Kapoor’ in: ibid., p. 168). Not only a fascinatingly complex manifestation of post-modern sublimity, Turning the World Upside Down encapsulates the profound symbolic import and haunting beauty of Kapoor’s oeuvre.