Anish Kapoor Bean Makes New York Scene

Anish Kapoor’s massive stainless-steel sculpture known colloquially as the bean was unveiled in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood on January 31. The shiny curved colossus, which closely resembles the British artist’s famous Chicago Cloud Gate, is his first for the Big Apple. Measuring nineteen feet high and forty-eight feet wide, and weighing forty tons, the pleasingly rounded form appears to be squeezing its way out from under the Herzog & de Meuron–designed “Jenga” tower at the corner of Church and Leonard Streets. The high-rise, so called for its jutting, stacked form, is home to Kapoor, who purchased a four-bedroom apartment there in 2016, a year before the building was completed.

Work on the sculpture was begun in 2019 but halted amid the Covid-19 crisis. Construction of the bean resumed in September 2021. The work is composed of thirty-eight stainless steel panels seamlessly welded atop multiple supportive frameworks, representing a structural improvement over its Chicago counterpart, which was created around a single frame. The work’s placement, partially underneath the building’s cantilevered second floor, led one of the seams to rupture last summer, as the side of the sculpture exposed to the sun expanded more rapidly in the heat of the season than did the side that remained in the shade. A team of experts was called in from England to hammer the seam back into place, which they did from deep inside the lustrous legume.

The $8 million sculpture’s distorted and shiny surface provides viewers with an alternate vision of themselves, and reflects sunlight or clouds during the day and the streetlamps and traffic lights of the city at night. The work is currently untitled; a naming ceremony is set to take place in the spring.


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