24 Tons of Steel

by Anish Kapoor
Guggenheim Museum
New York City
Commissioned by the Solmon R. Guggenheim Foundation
and Deutsche Bank
A blimp-like shape wedged in a small room at the Guggenheim Museum is unsettling.  24 tons of Cor-Ten steel constructed from 156 parts.  Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, Memory sits there, waiting for the viewer.
Memory is an accurate name for this piece.  You have access to the piece from three different vantage points, but at no time can you see the entire piece.  You have to complete the sculpture in your mind and that is the interesting part.
Kapoor has described Memory as a “mental sculpture.”  For the viewer, the only way to understand the entire piece is to navigate it in your mind.  The whole is only visible in your imagination.
Whereas in a Richard Serra piece (and it’s impossible not to compare the two, both are large and both are made with Cor-Ten steel), you walk not only around the outside of the entire piece, but in most cases, you can walk inside the sculpture.  A Serra piece is the ultimate in feeling connected to the artwork.
And yet I felt, the Kapoor piece left a very strong memory: a memory perhaps more heady, than visceral, but extremely powerful nevertheless.

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