public art

Anish Kapoor’s Brooklyn Whirlpool Is the Ultimate Summer Hangout

Soak up the sun with a side of existential dread next to Anish Kapoor’s ‘Descension.’

by Beckett Mufson
May 3 2017, 7:12pm

Anish Kapoor Descension, 2014 Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, 2017 Photo: James Ewing, Public Art Fund, NY © Anish Kapoor, 2017

A whirlpool circling as endlessly as mankind's search for the meaning of life opens today in the middle of New York City's Brooklyn Bridge Park. Titled Descension, it's iconic British artist Anish Kapoor's first major public sculpture in NYC since his 35-foot-wide Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center in 2006. Both works were commissioned by the Public Art Fund, and Descension is the organization's fifth installment of artwork at the public space in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

"We didn't make it," Kapoor said of Descension to a baffled press junket. Gesturing to a worker, he says, "Jesse over there dug a hole and we discovered it."

"Anish is always interested in the mythology around a piece," Public Art Fund director and chief curator Nicholas Baume explains the statement to Creators. "He loves exploring where the idea behind his work comes from. The idea that this was something that was always there."

Previous versions of Descension, which has also appeared at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India and Versailles' public artwork program, included dark pigment—not his exclusively-held blackest black or contentious pinkest pink—which lends them a more mysterious and otherworldly quality. Brooklyn's version is more transparent, Baume says, "suggesting it could be a tributary of the river." The other change, according to Baum, is scale. "The piece here is physically stronger. The vortex is bigger, the vibration of the earth is louder, there's more energy and power."

The opening of the sculpture kicks off NYCxDESIGN and celebrates the 40th anniversary of when the Public Art Fund began distributing the work of countless greats like Willem de Kooning, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Keith Haring, and Jeff Koons, free to the public. "The fact that it's free matters," Kapoor also said during his statement. "Art liberates us, opens us, frees us, and to have open access is a terrific thing."

Anish Kapoor's is on at Brooklyn Bridge Park through September 10. Learn more about the Public Art Fund and NYC x Design .
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