Reality bites

Anish Kapoor’s latest exhibition displays the artist’s lifelong interest in materiality.

Anish Kapoor: Untrue Unreal, a major exhibition in Florence, Italy, dedicated to the British-Indian artist's revolutionary sculptural career, features numerous monumental installations of both new and previously shown works.

Curated by Arturo Galansino, director general of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi cultural foundation, the exhibition showcases Kapoor’s artworks where ‘the unreal merges with the untrue, transforming or negating the common perception of reality’. In typical Kapoor style, the pieces transcend their materiality and make the viewer question what is real. 

At the entrance, viewers are invited to walk through the site-specific ‘Void Pavilion IV’ piece, a sleek white cubic structure that functions like a void, immersing them in a quiet space. Inside the palace, meanwhile, are several of Kapoor’s earlier works, including the well known ‘Svayambhu’, a massive brick of red wax reminiscent of gloopy blood, and ‘Endless Column’, a floor-to-ceiling fibreglass column painted in bright red pigment that seeks to disrupt the boundaries between the two surfaces. 

‘At this time of ultra-nationalism taking over the world, political fiction poses as the real and is blind to history,’ Kapoor has said, explaining that we have ‘lost touch with human reality’. ‘The real/unreal–true/untrue game is a trope of our times...’

Kapoor is widely known for his public sculptures, including the world-famous ‘Cloud Gate’ (aka ‘The Bean’) in Chicago and New York’s ‘Sky Mirror’, and his ‘Vantablack’ controversy which saw the artist exclusively licence Vantablack S-VIS – considered the blackest of black pigments – to his studio for artistic use. 

Anish Kapoor: Untrue Unreal is on at the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence from 7 October 2023 until 4 February 2024. For more information, visit


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Photographs: Anish Kapoor, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi.


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