Anish Kapoor Exhibit at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

No time like the last day of an exhibit to finally seeing it. One event I had been wanting to see since hearing about it shortly after our arrival in Istanbul many months ago was the Anish Kapoor exhibit at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum.

Chicagoans know Kapoor for his instantly iconic contribution to Millenium Park: Cloud Gate. Which every Chicagoan calls “The Bean.” Here are some photos I took of the Bean two-and-a-half years ago.



My wife Stephanie and I kept saying we should go and the months went by and finally I looked at the museum website and saw the exhibit was ending. So we went yesterday, Sunday.

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum is far from where we live. It’s up the Bosphorus, past the second bridge. We took the bus recommended on the museum’s website…over two hours later we arrived at the stop for the museum. It was stop-and-go traffic the whole way. The bus driver was nice enough to tell me when the stop was coming up. When we’d boarded the bus at Taksim, I had asked the driver if the bus stopped at the museum and he’d said yes. This is the amazing thing about Turkish bus drivers: they will personally tell you when it’s your stop. I’ve seen them do this not just for tourists but for plenty of native Turks.

We didn’t go into the museum right away because after that long bus ride we (especially the kids) needed to eat. So we ate lunch at a busy restaurant next door.

After lunch, we walked to the museum. The line at the ticket booth wasn’t long, moving quickly. When I asked for two adult and two children’s tickets the woman handed me the tickets and said I didn’t have to pay. I was confused. I thought, okay, maybe I have to pay when we enter the museum itself. No, not there either. We simply showed our tickets to the security guard. So, even though we endured a 2+hour trip both ways (a feature of life here in Istanbul), we were able to enter the museum for free.


Sky Mirror

The museum is on the beautiful grounds of a former mansion. That building now contains antique furniture and many ornate Ottoman era calligraphic manuscripts. The modern addition contains several galleries, a restaurant, and a gift shop.

As much as I appreciate and love art, sometimes abstract art like this brings out the smart-ass in me. The targets are so obvious…and so tempting…like this one.


It’s called Untitled and it’s made of onyx. I like it. But I couldn’t help thinking it looked like the Eye of Sauron. Or a vagina.

Museum rules forbid flash photography so some of these photos did not come out as well as I’d hoped.




Eight Eight


Untitled (made of sandstone)


My Body Your Body


Tongue (aka “water slide”)




Archeology and Biology  (This intriguing piece I called “Lava Vagina.”)


“Where are the dragons?” asked my son. “I don’t get it.” The photo doesn’t show the contours of the pieces, which are difficult to see even in the light provided. The purple is the deepest, most light-absorbing purple I’ve seen. You have to stare for a bit to see the bumps, edges, and waves in the stones.


“I don’t see the art in this,” said my son. Stephanie explained to Henry how that’s how art is sometimes; some pieces move you, others don’t. There were a few others that did nothing for me, mostly the ones I called “Half-Holes in Stone.”

The Kapoor exhibit was excellent, worth the trip, and definitely worth the entrance fee. There is great beauty in many of the forms created out of such large pieces of stone. They are compelling to look at and the workmanship is easy to admire. Despite being made from such hard materials and the chattering crowds of people nearby, I found the works  to be peaceful and comforting.


5 thoughts on “Anish Kapoor Exhibit at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum

  1. This entire post makes me so jealous ! I’ve always wanted to see Istanbul.

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