Lot 61
  • 61

Anish Kapoor

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
548,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Anish Kapoor
  • Untitled
  • alabaster


Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

Private Collection, Switzerland

Sotheby's, London, 21 June 2006, Lot 54 (consigned by the above)

Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich (acquired from the above sale)

Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2006)

Sotheby’s, New York, 14 May 2013, Lot 15 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner  

Catalogue Note

Anish Kapoor’s Untitled is a serene example of the sculptor’s absolute mastery of his medium. Displaying Kapoor’s astonishing technique, Untitled is among the most impressive of Kapoor’s alabaster works, combining elegance of form with remarkable powers of expression. Created in 1997, at a time when Kapoor was experimenting with a range of different media and forms, the present work brilliantly epitomises the sculptor’s major concerns and areas of investigation, in particular the exploration of alternative space and the innovative use of materials. With Untitled, Kapoor references a venerable tradition of stone carving dating back thousands of years which reached a pinnacle of expression during the Renaissance and Baroque periods with the rigorously worked marble sculptures of Michelangelo and Bernini. Placed squarely on its plinth, Untitled arguably becomes a contemporary re-incarnation of a portrait bust, a sculptural form that has been imbued with emotive and artistic significance for more than two thousand years.

Kapoor took immense care when selecting which pieces of alabaster to use, touring excavation sites with the Italian art dealer Massimo Mini in Brescia, Carrara and Volterra to find the most suitable sections. The rough-hewn, craggy surface of Untitled, still bearing the marks of its prior existence within the quarry, contrasts magnificently with the smoothly glowing circular aperture carved within the body of the stone, allowing light to filter luminously through the alabaster skin. The space contained within the circle invites associations with the idea of the void, a concept that has been of abiding interest for Kapoor throughout his career to date: “The void is not silent. I have always thought of it more as a transitional space, an in-between space. It’s very much to do with time. I have always been interested as an artist in how one can somehow look again for that very first moment of creativity where everything is possible and nothing has actually happened. It’s a space of becoming… something that dwells in the presence of the work… that allows it or forces it not to be what it states it is in the first instance” (Anish Kapoor in conversation with Homi K. Bhabha, in: Exh. Cat, London, Hayward Gallery, Anish Kapoor, 1998, p. 35). This idea of recreating the “very first moment” references the notions of beginning and birth, imbuing the central focus of Untitled with movingly womb-like connotations, an idea further articulated by Germano Celant: “The circle is also the uterus, the holy enclosure, locus of the Great Mother, primary element of creation and reproduction” (Germano Celant, Anish Kapoor, London 1996, p. 35) Within Untitled, the circular opening as signifier of source of life is protected by the solidity of the rocky casing, forming an impregnable barrier between interior and exterior.

In its naturalistic celebration of organic material, gathered from the Earth’s surface, Untitled invites associations with the passing of geological eons and the corresponding passage of time and historical development. Kapoor commented on this crucial aspect of his work: “There is a history in the stone and through this simple device of excavating the stone it’s just as if a whole narrative sequence is suddenly there” (Anish Kapoor cited in: ibid., p. 27). There is a sense of timelessness and continuity inherent within Untitled that induces a feeling of meditation and contemplation within the onlooker. The sheer beauty of the play of light through the alabaster surface is reminiscent of the gleam of a sunbeam through stained glass in a cathedral, endowing the work with an element of spirituality and sanctity. Untitled truly stands as one of the pinnacles of Kapoor’s sculptural oeuvre, a glorious evocation of the transcendental and unquantifiable nature of the infinite.