Anish Kapoor Her Blood 1998

Artwork details

Artist
Anish Kapoor born 1954
Title
Her Blood
Date 1998
Medium Stainless steel and lacquer
Dimensions Object, each: 3490 x 3490 x 416 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from Tate Members, with funds provided by the Estate of Father John Munton, the artist, and Nicholas Logsdail 2003
Reference
T11763
Not on display

Summary

Her Blood is made up of three virtually identical units – concave, stainless steel discs, each measuring almost three and half metres in diameter. The units can either rest directly on a floor so that the disks lean at a slight angle against a wall, or can be wall mounted. The use of industrial materials and the high degree of technical precision involved in their making are characteristics of much of Kapoor’s work. Displayed within a gallery interior, with each disc placed at the three points of an imaginary equilateral triangle, the three units form a self-sufficient installation. One has an applied red transparent finish, the other two have a highly polished metal finish, resulting in great reflectivity. The discs project back to the spectator distorted and inverted reflections of the exhibition space and its occupants, endlessly repeating and creating anew the triangular relationship between the work’s three separate components.

The sculpture’s title is reminiscent of the organic, visceral and sexual associations of many of this artist’s works that refer to the forms and cavities of the female body, including the series of etchings Blackness from Her Womb 2000 (P78608P78620). Uterine imagery is suggested by the form of Kapoor’s later sculpture Ishi’s Light 2003 (T12004) and the womb seems also to be evoked by the space created at the centre of the three mirrors of Her Blood. With Blood Mirror from 2000, a work comprising two red, wall-mounted mirrored discs, Kapoor revisits themes suggested by the earlier work (reproduced in Anish Kapoor pp.132-33). The artist has commented: ‘Sexuality is part of my work ... I think in an era where objects are ubiquitous ... particularly in our Western world, to look again at objects and think about them as holders of a kind of symbolic language is perhaps worthy ... it’s a purpose worthy of a life spent as an artist.’ (Quoted in Nayeri and Ramirez.)

Known for the clarity of its forms, the use of industrial materials and the potent symbolism of its visual language, Kapoor’s work suggests the abstraction of Minimalism. Her Blood belongs to the group of works that occupied Kapoor from the mid-1990s that use mirrored surfaces. The mirrored works are linked to the ‘void’ sculptures that the artist began producing from the early 1990s, which are characterised by the use of blocks punctuated by an empty recess, and inverted, funnel-like forms that disappear into walls and floors. Her Blood unites aspects of these by combining the monumentality of the imposingly sculptural ‘void’ works with the instability invoked by concave shapes and specular surfaces. The mirrored sculptures set up a dialogue between the spectator and the art object. However, the dialogue Kapoor establishes is an uneasy one, in that the distorting mirror undermines the viewer’s sense of space, confusing distinctions between inside and outside, and the realms of the finite and the infinite. The artist has explained: ‘Space is one of the only truly abstract entities. One of the things about mirrored objects, and especially the forms that are inside-out, is that they seem to be very active, to be in various states of becoming.’ (Quoted in Baume, p.52.)

In 2004, Kapoor exploited the mirror to new effect with the huge public sculpture Cloud Gate (Millennium Park, Chicago).

Further reading:
Nicholas Baume, ed., Anish Kapoor: Past, Present, Future, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston 2008, reproduced pp.82–3.
Eduardo Cicelyn and Mario Codognato, Anish Kapoor, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples 2003, reproduced pp.124–5 and 127–31.
Farah Nayeri and Marisa Ramirez, ‘Sculptor Anish Kapoor Talks About 9/11 Memorial, India, Money’, 16 February 2005, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/


news?pid=10000102&sid=amP1_M3NI95w&refer=uk [accessed 22 December 2008].

Alice Sanger
December 2008

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