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Iwan Baan photographs Anish Kapoor sculpture squashed under New York skyscraper

Photographer Iwan Baan has released images of Anish Kapoor‘s long-awaited reflective sculpture in New York, which sits at the base of Herzog & de Meuron‘s 56 Leonard Street skyscraper in Tribeca.The mirrored sculpture was completed by Kapoor in January almost 15 years after it was commissioned and is similar to his work called Cloud Gate – known as “The Bean” – in Chicago.

It has a balloon-like form and sits on the pavement at the base of Herzog & de Meuron‘s 56 Leonard Street skyscraper, which, because of its jutting envelope has come to be known as the Jenga Tower.

Anish Kapoor New York sculpture
The installation is Anish Kapoor’s first permanent sculpture in New York City

“The city can feel frenetic, fast and hard, imposing architecture, concrete, noise,” said Kapoor.

“My work, at 56 Leonard Street, proposes a form that though made of stainless steel is also soft and ephemeral.”

“Mirrors cause us to pause, to be absorbed and pulled in a way that disrupts time, slows it down perhaps; it’s a material that creates a new kind of immaterial space.”

Anish Kapoor New York bean with traffic
It is at the base of Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Street skyscraper

At 48 feet long by 19 feet tall (15 by 6 metres), the sculpture is smaller than the Chicago iteration, weighing 40 tons compared to Cloud Gate’s 98.

The sculpture rests completely on the ground. Part of it has been ensconced under one of the second-storey cantilevered apartments of the tower, and it projects toward the street.

In this way, it seems to be squeezed by the tower itself, giving the sculpture a sense of movement, while also appearing to prop the tower up.

Anish Kapoor New York bean through lobby
It has a mirrored exterior

With a highly mirrored surface, the sculpture reflects passersby and motorists on the busy Manhattan street.

According to developers Alexico Group, the sculpture is meant to be “fully integrated into the structure of the iconic tower” making it an “unprecedented collaboration between the sculpture and architecture”.

The sculpture has not yet been given an official name, and a spokesperson for Alexico Group said that a dedication and naming ceremony will take place in the coming months.

Originally commissioned in 2008, the sculpture has taken almost 15 years to come to fruition. It was first delayed by an economic slowdown, with construction finally beginning in 2019.

However, construction stopped in 2020 due to covid-travel restrictions stopping Kapoor’s UK-based construction team entering the country, leaving the structure half complete and earning it the nickname half bean.

Anish Kapoor New York City bean at night
A naming ceremony will be held in the coming months

Kapoor is known for his conceptual artwork, including his works using Vantablack, a material that absorbs 99 per cent of light directed at it, owned exclusively by Kapoor.

Other of his works in New York included a “bottomless” whirlpool that was placed in Brooklyn Bridge Park during 2017’s NYCXDesign festival.

The photography is by Iwan Baan.