8 Facts About Controversial Millionaire Artist Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is one of the most recognizable figures in contemporary art and has made millions, but he has also been a magnet for controversy, often infuriating everyone from the public to other artists.

Here are the top 8 things to know about Kapoor:

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8 Kapoor is one of the richest artists in the world

Anish Kapoor has gained great financial success through his art. In 2020, Kapoor was included on the Sunday Times’ annual “Rich List” of the top thousand richest people in England. According to the Hurun Research institute, a Shanghai luxury-publishing group’s survey of data from top-auction houses in the industry, Kapoor is the most successful living Indian artist. His works are among most expensive purchased at auction in the world.

RELATED: The 10 Most Expensive Sculptures Ever Sold

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7 Kapoor has gone to court over his work

Cloud Gate, 2004, is often called “The Bean” for its shape, this reflective sculpture has become a staple of Chicago’s Millennium Park. This $270 Million sculpture has been the source of controversy since it was installed, as was copyrighted by Kapoor. At first, the park’s management attempted to police who photographed the sculpture in the public park, even using security staff to prevent unauthorized documentation. This policy was reversed in 2005.

Kapoor enforced his own copyright on the sculpture in 2018, when the National Rifle Association used a shot of Cloud Gate in a film about what Kapoor described as, “the so-called liberal invasion of traditional American space.” With the assistance of a team of American lawyers, Kapoor was able to stop the NRA from using his work in their film, on the basis of copyright.

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6 He made one of the largest sculptures in the world

At 155 meters, this instillation – which nearly fills the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern – is one of the largest sculptures in the world. The title is a reference to a Greek mythological figure: the satyr Marsyas, who was flayed alive by the god Apollo. While the connection may not be immediately apparent on seeing the work, the artist’s description of the materials may shed some light on the choice of title. The piece is made up of three steel rings joined by a PVC membrane, and Kapoor has described the membrane as, “rather like a flayed skin.”

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5 He says he has no message for the world

Searching for meaning in Kapoor’s work may be a fruitless exercise, however. In an interview with The Guardian regarding his new retrospective, he stated, “I really do feel very strongly that I have nothing to say; I have no message to give the world and nor do I want to give the world a message. What I’m looking to do is to make objects that question the nature of objects – stones that are empty; heavy that’s not heavy, black objects that veil themselves…”

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4 Kapoor’s work has been vandalized – and he believes it was a conspiracy

Kapoor’s massive 2015 art instillation “Dirty Corner” at the Palace of Versailles in Palace became the subject of massive art world controversy. It was repeatedly vandalized, and Kapoor claims it was an inside job.

While Kapoor wasn’t directly responsible for the racy nickname, he believes that the vandalism was retribution. When Kapoor left vandalism up in protest, he was taken to court for displaying offensive slurs. In the end, the court ruled that the graffiti had to be covered with gold leaf – but Kapoor still maintains that it was politically motivated.

“I’d made three reports to the police and to this day have had no response from them,” Kapoor said of the controversy. “The councilor managed to get a court hearing within hours. I’ll say it again—it was an inside job.”

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3 Kapoor has is a CBE

Kapoor was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which is the highest-ranking order of the British Empire (followed by OBE and MBE) other than Knights and Dames. These are awarded to those who have made positive impacts in their work. Other familiar figures that have received CBEs include Stephen Hawking, Hugh Laurie, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Kapoor was also awarded the Turner Prize in 1991 and was the 2017 laureate of the $1,000,000 Genesis Prize.

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2 Kapoor has a monopoly on the “blackest material in the universe”

Invented by the scientific research company Surrey NanoSystems, Vantablack, a very dense carbon microtubes, and the darkest material ever created. It absorbs 99.96% of all light that hits it. It is so dark that it looks less like something painted black and more like a void in space.

In order to use it, a spray paint version of Vantablack has been developed – but it is only available to Anish Kapoor. He made an exclusive licensing deal that prevents Surrey Nanosystems from selling the color to any other artist.

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1 Outrage over the “blackest black” monopoly lead to a feud

Other artists have been critical of Kapoor for keeping others from using Vantablack in their own creations, and have worked on alternatives. MIT Center for Art Science and Technology’s artist-in-residence Diemut Stebe worked with astronautics professor Brian Wardle to develop an even darker substance, which absorbs 99.995% of all light. They titled it “The Redemption of Vanity.”

Artist Stuart Semple is also developing super black pigments, but what brought the feud to public attention was another pigment: the pinkest pink. It’s available for everyone to buy and use – except Anish Kapoor. Purchasers are required to agree to the following warning: “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”

Kapoor was eventually able to get his hands (or finger) on a jar of pinkest pink, but the point was made.

READ NEXT: 10 Most Expensive Art Installations In Recent Memory

Sources: Business Today, artnet, Galerie, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC, The Gazette

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