Bove works improvisationally and sculpts at scale and in the round, without preparatory drawings. For this commission, she used a one-to-one mock-up of the Museum’s empty niches that was created in her studio. Bove chose a series of nonrepresentational forms that resonate with modernist styles such as Art Deco and abstraction-a stark contrast to the traditional figurative sculptures that the architect Richard Morris Hunt envisioned for The Met’s facade, which was completed in 1902, but was never fully realized. Bove based the size of the aluminum disks on the diameter of the columns that flank the Museum’s niches and the medallion portraits that adorn the spandrels of the arches. The differing orientations result in a playful, rhythmic pattern, yielding a frisson of delight that might throw viewers slightly off-balance. By astutely engaging the Museum’s facade, reimagining its history, and retooling some of its architectural and design elements, the artist subtly calls for us to reevaluate and reckon with the legacies of tradition.
Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said, “Carol Bove has transformed The Met’s historic exterior with four commanding yet playful sculptures. These colossal figures and abstract entities engage powerfully with their surroundings, beckoning to visitors and reflecting the changing light throughout the day. We look forward to sharing these works with New York.”
Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, added, “The Met’s Beaux-Art architecture is 119 years old but—like the niches that were left empty—the Museum itself is an ongoing, unfinished project, always changing. Old certainties wither in this new era: Bove’s sculptures speak directly to this, upending tradition but upholding the power of culture to question. They are dynamic provocateurs.”