Artist-in-Residence

Anish Kapoor

An exhibition view of Anish Kapoor's sculpture titled Body to Body
Anish Kapoor, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Body to Body, 1997. Wool and fiberglass. 115 x 58 x 9.5 inches (292.1 x 147.32 x 24.13 cm). Edition 2 of 2. Collection of The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Photo Credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Anish Kapoor collaborated with FWM to explore the possibilities of felted and woven wool—both handmade and industrially-produced. Although the medium was entirely new to the artist, the resulting series of sculptures shares its overall aesthetic sensibility with the whole of Kapoor’s oeuvre. Color and form are paramount, playing an allegorical role in communicating the sculptures’ meaning. The color red, for example, is primary in Kapoor’s work; through non-verbal cues, it denotes the intimacy of the body through associations with blood, sexuality, birth, and death. As three-dimensional objects, Kapoor’s forms often use illusion to heighten the sense of depth or lend mystery to the piece. Curving, organic, sensuous shapes, the sculptures often evoke the human body, particularly wombs, navels, and phalluses.

Body to Body is formed by the artist’s careful manipulation of layers of woven felt, supported in part by a fiberglass structure, which allows the hanging, bulbous form in the sculpture’s center to hold its shape. The long, sensual drape of deep red felt spills onto the floor, pooled in rippled valleys of cloth. In Untitled, Kapoor transforms a large white square of industrial felt by simple twists, folds and turns, and then imbeds a red wool sphere in this undulating field of white.

The essence of Kapoor’s artistic practice is to evoke a sense of mystery, or the experience of the sublime. In a 2000 interview on BBC radio, Kapoor explained of his work: “As an artist, I suppose that one of the things I’m working with is mystery. I sense also that we all have a deep need to believe. I think that process of wishing to believe is mysterious. It’s one of the things I’m feeling my way towards” (Belief, BBC Radio 3, December 28, 2000).