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Anish Kapoor Does His Part For Refugees While Another Artist Sets A Trap For Him

After Anish Kapoor was awarded the 2017 Genesis Prize, he pledged to donate the $1 million that accompany the award to causes aiding refugees.

But the sculptor, most famous for his Chicago work “Cloud Gate,” colloquially known as “The Bean,” is also planning to make a difference with his art.

A new drawing by Kapoor debuted March 19 as part of “Multicolour” a charity auction and exhibition. The project, organized by Migrate Art, a London-based organization that uses art to fundraise for refugee causes, asked Kapoor and other artists to craft their pieces using recovered art supplies from the so-called Calais Jungle. The Calais Jungle was a makeshift refugee camp in France that, until authorities brutally shut down the site in 2016, housed some 10,000 men, women and children. Most of the refugees displaced by that action dispersed to other parts of France, but a large number still remained in the area.

90 percent of the proceeds generated by the artwork included in “Multicolour,” which will be on the block April 11 at Phillips’ New Now auction house, will be shared among several refugee aid charities, the British style magazine Dazed reported. The remaining 10 percent of proceeds will fund future projects by Migrate Art.

For his untitled contribution, Kapoor sketched an archway using a red crayon found in the remains of a Calais Jungle school.

Kapoor is making this week’s news not just for philanthropy, but also for the latest sortie in his ongoing tiff with the artist Stuart Semple. On Monday, Semple debuted an installation in Central London called “All about the Cheddar.” The artwork’s main component is a sculpture housed in a window display, which comprises a metal net hovering over a wedge of cheddar, Kapoor’s preferred cheese, which rests on a painted black hole. The piece prolongs the feud between the artists over Kapoor’s exclusive rights to the use of Vantablack — the world’s blackest substance — and Semple’s campaign to launch a widely available (and blacker) paint through Kickstarter donations. Semple’s paint, Black 3.0, was used for the hole in “All about the Cheddar,” though he maintains that the display wasn’t funded by the Kickstarter campaign.

The dispute between Kapoor and Semple, which began in 2016, has produced sophomoric behavior from both parties. In the year it all started, prior to the launching of the Kickstarter, Semple mocked Kapoor by cheekily hawking what he called “the world’s pinkest pink” which he forbade Kapoor from using. Kapoor responded by flipping Semple off on Instagram with a finger dipped in Semple’s patented pink.

Kapoor has yet to rise to Semple’s latest bait. That’s just as well, as the struggles that displace refugees should probably receive more notice than the battle over who has the blacker paint.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at




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