The success of Anish Kapoor’s ‘Sky Mirror’ owes much to its home in Kensington Gardens, says Martin Gayford.
Published 28 Sep 2010
Anish Kapoor remarked this week that Kensington Gardens, was “the best site in London for a piece of art, probably in the world”. He wasn’t unprejudiced – it does happen to be the setting of his new outdoor exhibition. But he also makes a valid point. With sculpture, the much-quoted estate agent’s slogan is correct: it’s location, location, location that counts.
This is especially true of modernist works. Sometimes they need the right context to register at all. Consider Tracy Emin’s celebrated My Bed (1998). Whether you find it powerful or revolting, it’s certainly a striking item to come across in an art gallery. But in a student flat, well, you’d scarcely notice the stained sheets and surrounding squalor, let alone think of them as a work of art.
The greenery, lawns and lakes of Kensington Gardens tend to be good backgrounds for sculpture. Henry Moore chose the site currently occupied by Kapoor’s Sky Mirror for a work of his own, a mighty sculptural arch, donated to the nation by the artist in 1980 and removed for conservation in 1996. Moore’s works look a lot better with a background of grass and leaves than they do in shopping centres or housing estates.