ARLINGTON — A giant mirror reflecting the glories of Texas skies and the waxing and waning crowds at AT&T Stadium was unveiled Friday night by Gene and Jerry Jones as they introduced Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor, by far the grandest and most expensive addition to the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection.While the Joneses don’t typically comment on the price they pay for artworks, Jones couldn’t resist on this one. “We spent $10 million on Sky Mirror, and $4 for the installation,” he said as he walked around it for the first time.He hadn’t seen it until Friday night, only photographs and mockups of how it might look outside the stadium.“The pictures didn’t do it justice, it’s just beautiful,” he enthused.Even though Jones is known for hyperbole, in this case he is not exaggerating about how lovely the piece is. The 35-foot diameter circle of stainless steel reflects the eastern sky on its concave side and on the stadium side, the crowds.It is not dwarfed by the monstrous stadium. It sits on a black granite plinth that elevates it just high enough that it doesn’t cover the new At&T signage, and it can be seen from Interstate 30 as one approaches from the east. It reflects what Texas is known for — big open skies and hundreds of thousands of football fans. The giant piece weighs 23 tons, but it has traveled the world. It’s been in London and appeared in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Earlier this year it was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia, for a Kapoor retrospective before settling into its permanent home in Arlington.The museum in Sydney wanted to buy the work, Gene Jones said. Kapoor made the decision — Sydney or Arlington. “The work has been around since 2005,” said Kapoor, who attended the unveiling. “It’s very difficult to place.“It’s in an unexpected place — a stadium. I like the idea of it being in front of big audience, maybe not a worldwide one since it’s a football stadium, but an American audience.” Kapoor, 59, is an internationally recognized artist who was born in Mumbai and is now a resident of Great Britain. He is the most famous artist in the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection, which now consists of 56 works of art, including 16 site specific commissions by 40 established and emerging artists.This is the first piece of outdoor sculpture purchased by the Joneses. As Gene Jones first began assembling a list of artists to approach for the collection, Kapoor’s name was on it.“To get something custom made might have taken more years than I wanted to wait,” she says. “I hoped one day we would have something of his, and here we are.” Sky Mirror is one of a number of reflective artworks in various shapes that Kapoor has been working on for more than 20 years. There are even multiple Sky Mirrors in Britain, although much smaller than this one.“I came to them out of an interest in the idea that objects are not what they say they are,” he said.The reflections in his concave mirrors are upside down, and give the viewer a sense of vertigo, as if they are falling into the artwork. The mirrors also give a new perspective on the surrounding space. They can recede into the clouds they reflect, and seem to project into the foreground if the light quality from above is different than that on the ground. The duality of absence and presence is in constant play.“Sculpture,” Kapoor says, “is engagement with space.” One of Kapoor’s most famous pieces is Chicago’s Cloud Gate, known affectionately as “The Bean.” The 125-ton stainless steel, kidney-shaped piece reflects the verticality of Chicago’s skyline. Visitors can walk underneath it where reflections of bodies and the gridded plaza give fractured kaleidoscopic views of the surroundings. It is a superb piece of public art, one that enhances the view of Chicago and is an entertaining walk around. Visitors with cameras seem particularly enchanted as they circle it, snapping the postcard-like views of skyscrapers and then themselves as they are reflected in its many fun-house like surfaces. Sky Mirror is not as accessible as The Bean. It is surrounded by water but from the back side, it is possible to see oneself in the rounded surface and delighted everyone with a camera phone who came to see its unveiling.The east plaza will be accessible whenever there is an event at the stadium and during the week when tours are given.
Gaile Robinson, 817-390-7113 Twitter: @GaileRobinson