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Brit sculptor Anish Kapoor slams critics over Olympic sculpture

Updated: May 12, 2012, 12:40 PM IST

London: Indian-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor has dismissed criticism of his Olympic sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, claiming that nobody liked the Eiffel Tower either when it was first built.

The 22.7 million-pound tower, which is twice the height of Nelson’s Column, has been likened to an “overgrown maypole”, a “turd on the plaza” and “a contorted mass of entrails.”

Even Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and the man who commissioned the work, refers to it as “the hubble bubble.”

“You know, the Eiffel Tower was hated by everybody for a good many years - 50 years or something like that - and now it’s a mainstay of how we understand Paris,” a leading daily has quoted Kapoor as saying on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It’s controversial and that’s a place to start. Discomfort is okay,” he said.

The tower stands 115 metres (377 ft) high and has two observation floors. Visitors - initially restricted to those with tickets for the London 2012 Games - ascend in a lift and descend via the spiral staircase that snakes around the structure.

“It’s not really an image, it’s an experience,” Kapoor said.

Explaining the tower’s wonky appearance, he said: “We wanted to make something that was a kind of deconstruction of the tower. Towers are almost always symmetrical - this is an asymmetrical tower. It has a particular refusal, in a way, of a singular image. It’s all about walking around it.”

The tower is named after Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of steel giant ArcelorMittal and Britain’s richest man with an estimated family fortune of 12.7 billion pounds. He put up 19.6 million pounds of the funding, with the remaining 3.1 million pounds supplied by the Greater London Authority.