February 16, 2017, New York, NY – In May of 2017 as part of its 40th Anniversary season, Public Art Fund brings Descension, one of Anish Kapoor’s most viscerally arresting installations, to New York City for the first time. Sited at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, this massive, continuously spiraling funnel of water will harness one of the most evanescent of materials and create a striking contrast with the adjacent East River. Anish Kapoor, among the most influential artists of his generation, has had a career-long engagement with space and the limits of perception. Perhaps best known for his iconic public artworks, his last major outdoor sculpture in New York City was Public Art Fund’s presentation of Sky Mirror, his 35-foot-diameter concave mirror at Rockefeller Center in 2006. With Descension, he has created a dynamic negative space that descends into the ground, disturbing the familiar boundaries of our world. In the midst of a quintessential New York park, Kapoor invites us to experience the sheer perceptual wonder of an ordinary material like water made to behave in an extraordinary way. Anish Kapoor: Descension will be on view May 3 – September 10, 2017 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1.
“As we celebrate 40 years of bringing remarkable public art to New York City, it’s important to recognize those artists and exhibitions that have shaped the discourse and been so memorable to our broad public audience. We’re thrilled that Anish’s newest work will be a highlight of this anniversary season, more than a decade after his outdoor debut with us,” said Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.
Since the mid-1990s, Kapoor has explored the notion of the void by creating works that seem to recede into the distance, disappear into walls or floors, or otherwise destabilize assumptions about the physical world. Descension realizes a long-held aspiration of the artist to create a negative space alive with energy, continuously in process. 26-feet in diameter, the spiraling funnel of water is treated with an all-natural black dye, creating an opaque, seemingly endless hole. The whirling pool will be surrounded by a railing, inviting audiences to peer into its dark depths. Through this transformation of properties inherent to materials and objects, Kapoor blurs the boundaries between nature, landscape, and art, allowing us to perceive space differently.
“Anish Kapoor reminds us of the contingency of appearances: our senses inevitably deceive us. With Descension, he creates an active object that resonates with changes in our understanding and experience of the world,” said Baume. “In this way, Kapoor is interested in what we don’t know rather than in what we do, understanding that the limit of perception is also the threshold of human imagination.”
First envisioned as a smaller, interior work for India’s Kochi-Muziris biennale (2014-15), Descension was later re-imagined as a large-scale outdoor piece for Kapoor’s solo exhibition at Versailles (2015). This will be the first time the artist brings Descension to North America, giving visitors a unique chance to experience one of Kapoor’s most innovative new works.
Anish Kapoor, who is one of the most prominent sculptors of his generation, works in a wide variety of scales and formats, and in a range of media including pigment, stone, stainless steel, resin, wax, earth, and silicone. Over the last four decades, he has created a remarkably inventive and resonant body of work layered with artistic, cultural, and personal associations. Kapoor is well known for his captivating outdoor and indoor site-responsive works in which he marries a Modernist sense of pure materiality with a fascination for the manipulation of form and the perception of space. Born in Bombay, he moved to London in the 1970s to study art, first working on abstract yet evocative sculptures using elemental natural materials such as pigment, stone, and plaster. His sculptures reinvent the formal language of minimalism through the use of deep, resonant colors, sensuously refined textures and surfaces, and optical effects of depth and dimension.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Anish Kapoor will give a Public Art Fund Talk in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School on May 3 where he will discuss his installation as it relates to his art practice and public space.
This exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors working today. He was born in Bombay in 1954 and lives and works in London. He studied at Hornsey College of Art (1973–77) followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London (1977–78). Recent major solo exhibitions include Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma (MACRO), Rome (2016); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2016); Château de Versailles, France (2015); The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow (2015); Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Istanbul (2013); Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2012); Le Grand Palais, Paris (2011) and the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2009). He represented Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale (1990), for which he was awarded the Premio Duemila. He won the Turner Prize in 1991 and has honorary fellowships from the London Institute and Leeds University (1997), the University of Wolverhampton (1999), the Royal Institute of British Architecture (2001) and the University of Oxford (2014). His major permanent commissions include Cloud Gate (2004) for the Millennium Park in Chicago and Orbit for the London 2012 Olympic Park. In 2013 Ark Nova, the world’s first inflatable concert hall, was launched for the Lucerne Festival in Japan. He was elected Royal Academician in 1999, awarded the Premium Imperiale in 2011 and the Padma Bhushan in 2012. He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.
ABOUT THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Public Art Fund celebrates 40 years of presenting bold, impactful, ambitious works of contemporary art throughout New York City with a series of exhibitions in 2017 that is emblematic of the organization’s mission and innovative history. Since Public Art Fund’s founding by Doris C. Freedman in 1977, the organization has worked to break down the inherent boundaries between audiences and institutions, by presenting work outside the confines of the traditional white cube. 40 years later, Public Art Fund continues to demonstrate the power and potential of public art to transform the urban environment, while encompassing experiences as diverse and wide-ranging as the artists who have imagined them.
The 40th anniversary exhibition lineup includes the citywide group exhibition Commercial Break (February); Liz Glynn: Open House (March) at Doris C. Freedman Plaza; Anish Kapoor: Descension (May) at Brooklyn Bridge Park; Katja Novitskova: EARTH POTENTIAL (June) at City Hall Park; and more to be announced in 2017.
Public Art Fund gratefully acknowledges the generosity of its 40th Anniversary supporters:
Presenting Sponsor: Bloomberg Philanthropies
40th Anniversary Leadership Circle
Jill & Peter Kraus, Jennifer & Matthew Harris, the Charina Endowment Fund, Elizabeth Fearon Pepperman & Richard C. Pepperman II, Jennifer & Jason New, Holly & Jonathan Lipton, Marcia Dunn & Jonathan Sobel, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Patricia & Howard Silverstein, The Silverweed Foundation, Katherine Farley & Jerry Speyer, and AllianceBernstein L.P.
Public Art Fund exhibitions are supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Special thanks to the Office of the Mayor, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, Department of Cultural Affairs, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
ABOUT PUBLIC ART FUND
As the leader in its field, Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and beyond by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.