Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor

Non-Object (Plane), 2010

Stainless steel


192 in. x 84 in. (487.68 cm x 213.36 cm)

Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds and generous gifts from an anonymous donor; Robert Sanders ’64 and the Sanders family; The David W. Bermant Foundation: Color, Light, Motion; and Julian Cherubini, MIT Class of 1957

Non-Object (Plane) by Anish Kapoor stands 16-feet tall, a little over 7-feet wide, and weighs around 3,500 pounds. Its monumental, concave form contrasts with the work’s delicate structure and surface of mirror-polished stainless steel, a material the artist has worked with extensively; the piece also provides a striking counterpoint to the eccentric forms and metal cladding of the Stata Center’s Frank Gehry architecture.

Visitors encountering the sculpture can engage directly with the work’s playful reflections of themselves and the surrounding space, animated by light from the overhead skylight and clerestory windows. This piece is an example of Kapoor’s interest in voids, perceptual ambiguities, and continuities between form and space. The artist is perhaps best know for his 110-ton stainless steel sculpture Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park, which was inspired by the shape of liquid mercury.

Kapoor has remarked: “I’ve always felt a fascination with the modern, the industrial, the mechanical, the seemingly scientific–and then to use these materials in order to search for their opposite–the intimate and the sublime.”

This artwork was commissioned for the TMSC Lobby as part of MIT’s landmark Percent-for-Art Program, which allots funds to commission or purchase art for each new major campus renovation or building project. Kapoor’s work was made possible by donations that supplemented the available Percent-for-Art funds, including generous gifts from an anonymous donor; Robert Sanders ’64 and the Sanders family; The David W. Bermant Foundation: Color, Light, Motion; and Julian Cherubini ’57.

Building Number: 32G

Accession Number: PFA.2010.002

Audio Transcript

Living and working in London since the 1970s, Mumbai-born Anish Kapoor is known for his deceptively simple, highly polished stainless steel sculptures. Titled Non-Object (Plane), the massive curved sheet of metal in the busy lobby of MIT's Stata Center provides the perfect counterpoint to the Frank Gehry-designed building. This 2010 commission was enabled by funds from the MIT Percent-for-Art, a program of the List Visual Arts Center. Begun at MIT in 1968, the initiative allocates a portion of the budget from each new building project or major renovation to the purchase or commission of art for public space.

Lisa Corrin, Director of the Block Museum, Northwestern University.

When you come through the door of the building, at first you don't notice the Anish Kapoor sculpture. You think you're standing opposite a large reflecting mirror. But what is so fascinating about this object is that unless you stand in a particular spot, you can't even see yourself. You see the reflections and refractions of Gehry's curving architecture, the rich pattern of surfaces of the materials that Gehry has used in contrast to the dynamic movement of the street outside. There's an incredible sense of interconnectedness between the sculpture, the building, and the entire landscape outside of it.

When you stand in exactly the right position, you begin to see parts of yourself, but you begin very quickly to dissolve. And you begin to question exactly what your perspective on the world really is.

The piece, notes Corrin, almost has the feel of a funfair mirror, animated by light from both the lobby's overhead skylight and clerestory window.

There's something about losing our identities in the play of light and movement, the shifting of the surfaces, that allows us to leave our bodies and enter a completely different space, a space that can be described as spiritual, the space of the unconscious.