Ascension was to be one of the highlights of this year's Venice Biennale. The work, a strand of smoke ascending from the floor to a hu' />

Anish Kapoor's Ascension was to be one of the highlights of this year's Venice Biennale. The work, a strand of smoke ascending from the floor to a huge extractor fan in the ceiling of the Basilica di San Giorgio, emphasised the "immaterial becoming object", according to the artist.

But visitors to the exhibit's unveiling this week were bamboozled when a tornado-like column of smoke turned into little more than a faint stream that disintegrated after several metres.

A representative of the artist said staff shut the doors after the work produced less smoke than usual.

The representative said Ascension was a subtle work "open to misinterpretation".

But broadcast and print art critic Waldemar Januszczak could scarcely hide his disdain.

"What should be big, firm and erect is a bit of a flop," he said.

A confused visitor said: "They wouldn't let people in, and then they did, and it didn't work."

Said Kapoor: "In my work, what is and what seems to be often become blurred.

- INDEPENDENT