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Anish Kapoor (b. 1954), "Memory" (2008); Cor-Ten steel; (14.5 x 8.97 x 4.48 meters)
Commissioned by Deutsche Bank in consultation with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the Deutsche Guggenheim. Installation view: Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 2008. Photo: Mathias Schormann
With the inauguration of the Deutsche Guggenheim in 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Deutsche Bank launched a unique and ambitious program of contemporary art commissions that has enabled the Guggenheim to act as a catalyst for artistic production. "Anish Kapoor: Memory" is the fourteenth commission project to be completed since the program’s inception and is the Guggenheim Foundation’s first collaboration with the artist, known for his expansive vision and profound aesthetics.
Anish Kapoor’s genius lies in his ability to have created a site-specific work that engages with two very different exhibition scenarios. Using Cor-Ten steel for the first time, Memory (2008) represents a new milestone in Kapoor’s career. Memory is positioned tightly within the compound of its gallery space. Its thin Cor-Ten skin, only eight millimeters thick, suggests a form that is ephemeral and unmonumental. The sculpture appears to defy gravity as it gently glances up against the peripheries of the gallery walls and ceiling, and down again to the floor. Its inaccessibility forces viewers to negotiate the work at a remove and to contemplate its ensuing fragmentation by attempting to piece together the images retained in their memories. As such, they are required to exert more effort in the act of seeing. Kapoor describes this process as creating "mental sculpture." As participants rather than as mere spectators of Memory, they become hyperconscious of their own positions in space.
Memory’s color properties relate this commission back to Kapoor’s early pigment pieces from the 1980s. Rather than necessitating a coat of paint to smooth the interior curvature, the sculpture’s seamless steel tiles, perfectly manufactured to prevent any light from seeping through, read as one continuous form. These steel tiles create the necessary conditions for darkness and boundlessness within—the void, viewable through a two-meter square aperture or window. Furthermore, Kapoor’s sculptures elicit a certain confrontation. At a weight of twenty-four tons, Memory’s raw, ineffable, and industrial exterior is absolutely foreboding.(read less)
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