Carol Bove (b. 1971), Untitled. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2013
peacock feathers mounted on canvas, 96 x 48 x 5 in. (243.8 x 121.9 x 12.7 cm.). Executed in 2013. Estimate $150,000 – $200,000
Provenance: Courtesy of the artist, Maccarone, New York and David Zwirner, New York/London
Notes: Carol Bove is best known for her intricate work with found materials. Creating assemblages and installations with objects such as books, wood and, as in the present work, peacock feathers, Bove constructs quietly exquisite works that engage the viewer and cause them to examine their relationship to materials found within their own existence. In the present work, Untitled, Bove presents a striking composition constructed of carefully placed and layered peacock feathers that creates a magical, tromp-l'oeil effect which fully engages the viewer's visual senses.
In her works constructed with peacock feathers Bove uses eye feathers that are found from birds in India that have naturally shed their feathers. The shimmering and iridescent eye feathers are placed on the canvas with great care and precision to create a wave-like pattern of acidic green and dark purple. For each work, Bove sifts through thousands of feathers, appraising their natural composition and searching for organic patterns that emerge. The feathers are then placed in a highly selective and determined order creating a patterned tapestry-like effect. Upon close inspection of Untitled the delicate and rainbow-like feathers seem to shift in tone before the viewer's eyes causing the viewer to more fully appreciate the beauty of objects found within nature.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland and raised in California, Bove is deeply influenced by her time in the Berkeley area as a child. The California vibe and culture, Bove believes a direct off-shoot of Surrealism, informs much of the artist's work with found objects. "California-Berkeley, San Francisco-there's a tradition of found-object assemblage, stuff that is almost naively inherited from Surrealists. There was a kind of beat culture, exemplified by Wallace Berman, that seems like Surrealism plus the Kabbalah, which is an interesting formulation. My early experiences with art-making were through that instantiation of Surrealism. I was attracted as a young person to Bruce Conner's work. If Surrealism did find a home in the U.S., I feel like that's where it went-to California." (C. Bove, Art in America, April 5, 2012).
Influenced by the spirit and culture of Berkeley in the 1990s, Bove's peacock feather works draw direct inspiration from her time there. During the 1990s, a tribe of peacocks lived in a neighborhood in Berkeley. Peacock sightings and interactions were not uncommon for Berkeley residents and this co-mingling of human and majestic bird in a community informs Bove's work with the feathers today.
Through Bove's use of found materials in her works, she causes the viewer to not only examine their own relationship and history with certain objects but causes us to study the innate beauty found within them. By elevating these materials and objects to a thoughtful and intricate work of art, Bove is calling our attention not only to the beauty of the object itself, but to the beauty to be found in the world around us.