When I first experienced the work of Anish Kapoor, I was in Chicago visiting Millennium Park. On my first encounter, I was amazed by its massive size, and enamored with its fluid curves and reflective surface. After my own interactions with the piece, I found a place to sit and watched people interact, pose, and take pictures with Cloud Gate for hours. Affectionately known as “the Bean,” it is his best-known piece in the United States. I thought and taught about this work for years after that moment.
Fast forward to a visit to the High Museum of Art; I did not go to see anything in particular, just a day for exploring art with my children. So as we commonly do, we went to the museum on a Saturday. I always stop by the contemporary art floor. This time, I wanted to show my boys the Kehinde Wiley that was on view. On our way back from the Wiley, we stopped in front of an untitled piece by Anish Kapoor. Not knowing much about the work or making the connection to Cloud Gate, we were first fascinated with the kaleidoscope-like reflection of ourselves in the piece. We twirled around to see—just like the small kaleidoscope toy I used to find in the Cracker Jack box—the different reflections and fragments of ourselves within this 10-foot-wide mirrored sculpture.
Then we discovered the sound aspect of the sculpture. One of us would whisper into the disk, while the other person stood with their back to the art on the opposite side of the room to decipher what was whispered. We tried different variations of our voices and told anyone who came onto that floor to try it too.
After more research, I realized this was an Anish Kapoor. I later learned that each facet was cut and soldered to create the shiny concave disk. This work has been on view at the High Museum since July of 2011. It was installed by forklift and sits in the main gallery of the contemporary floor of the High. Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay, India, in 1954. He has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s.
I live in Atlanta and visit Kapoor’s piece quite a bit. It is simple in appearance but complex in construction. Its familiar form invites the viewer to approach and interact with the work. The interactive aspect of the work made it memorable not only for me but for my two sons. I love how the viewer is an integral part of the piece. That unique aspect makes the work relatable for everyone.
Karen Comer Lowe is the facility manager and curator of the Chastain Arts Center and an adjunct professor at Spelman College. She also curates exhibitions for the Rialto Center of the Arts. You may randomly find her at any museum or gallery showing contemporary art.