Artatomical: 'Marsyas' By Anish Kapoor


Marsyas, 2002 View Pictures/UIG/Getty

In this edition of Artatomical, let us consider a piece from Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor (1954-).

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Kapoor's work frequently entails large-scale public sculptures and architectural projects. He doesn't often explore the human body, but his 2002 installation "Marsyas" takes an undeniable dive into the flesh. We see it as it stood from 2002-2003 in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.

"Marsyas" takes its title and inspiration from the Greek Myth of the god Apollo and satyr Marsyas. Having challenged Apollo to a musical contest and lost, Marsyas was flayed alive by the victorious god of music. The scene was frequently depicted in classical art, such as in "Marsyas and Apollo" (see to your right) by Luca Giordano (1634-1705).

Here's what the artist himself had to say:

"The work forms itself between three very large steel rings, it is stretched between them like a flayed skin. I am concerned with the way in which a language of engineering can be turned into a language of body. It is important that you can never get a view of the whole piece. It is jammed into the building so as to not allow anything but a partial view. The work must maintain its mystery and never reveal its plan. Perhaps then it becomes unobtainable. I want to make things that remain secret."

You can see more images of the piece from conception through installation over at Kapoor's website.

Now let's take another gaze at it...

Marsyas, 2002
View Pictures/UIG/Getty

I visited London in late 2006 (and loved every minute of it), but Turbine Hall was sadly empty at the time.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.