The Eye in Stone, Kapoor and ‘Sculpitecture’


Anish Kapoor's 'The Eye in Stone'

I have yet to come across anyone who actually likes Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit, the giant structure to be erected centrally on the London Olympics site.

Much has been written about the published visualisations of this “sculpitecture” design, not much of it positive. Some of the criticism, of course, is predictable and knee-jerk, whilst some of it is more considered.

Hugh Pearman (whose review belongs in the latter category, despite concluding that “it is, by a considerable distance, the worst piece of public art I have ever seen”) feels the main problem lies in the design’s failure to successfully combine its sculptural and structural purposes.

Certainly, the structure is hard to warm to – the red, twisted steel tower appears unbalanced, imposing and entirely at odds with its surroundings. It seems to hover uncomfortably between two different states: is it a sculpture or a building? Does it work as either?

The controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit

However, in a book at home I came across some pictures of ‘The Eye in Stone’ – a work of Kapoor’s that is so dramatically different from the more recent Orbit that I wanted to share it here.

The Eye in Stone

The small, understated and essentially simple Eye in Stone seems directly opposed to the complexity and ostentation of the Orbit. Ironically, the beautiful Eye in Stone sits in the remote village of Lødingen, to be enjoyed by a population just over 2000 and a sprinkling of tourists. The Orbit, on the other hand, will be viewed by millions.

The book is “Skulpturlandskap Nordland”, published by Geelmuyden Kiese. Kapoor’s Eye in Stone forms part of Artscape Nordland, a project involving 33 public artworks, 33 artists and 33 municipalities in the far North of Norway.

Artscape Nordland is an international art project with invited participants from 18 countries.

The project originated in a comprehensive debate about the role of art in society. The County of Nordland, with its 240.000 inhabitants, does not have an art museum – and people must travel long distances to study modern art in museums and galleries. The idea of a collection of modern art in Nordland, one sculpture in every municipality and with the landscape as gallery, was first presented in 1988. …

The project officially started in 1992, and was completed in 1998. Sculptures, located in beautiful, varied and often brutal landscapes on the coast of the Atlantic, will be found in 33 of the 45 municipalities in the county. An art gallery without walls or a ceiling – and covering an area of 40.000 km2.

The Artscape Nordland website contains a Flash-tour presenting the 33 artworks. It is well worth spending some quiet time on.

The Eye in Stone

The Eye in Stone

The Eye in Stone

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