Kapoor was born in Bombay in India and moved to Britain in 1972. There he studied art first in Hornsey and later in Chelsea. He has lived in Bristol since then, though frequently makes trips back to India, and has acknowledged that his work is inspired by both western and eastern culture.
In the early 1980s, Kapoor emerged as one of a number of British sculptors working in a new style and gaining some international recognition with their work (the others included Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Anthony Gormley, Bill Woodrow and Richard Wentworth).
Kapoor's pieces are often simple, curved forms, usually monochrome, and frequently brightly coloured. Powdered pigments sometimes cover the works and sometimes lie on the floor around the works as well. This practice is inspired by the mounds of brightly coloured pigments Kapoor saw on his visits to India.
From the end of the 1990s, Kapoor produced a number of very large works, including Taratantara (1999), a 35 metre-tall piece installed in the Baltic Flour Mills in Gateshead before renovation began there, and Marsyas (2002), a large work of steel and polyvinyl chloride installed in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. In 2000, one of Kapoor's works, Parabolic Waters, consisting of rapidly rotating coloured water, was shown outside the Millennium Dome in London.
Kapoor represented Britain in the 1990 Venice Biennale, and the following year he won the Turner Prize.