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David Zwirner, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Over the past decade, Swiss-born, American artist Carol Bove has developed an artistic vocabulary that places a key role in the materiality of the artwork. Typically working with found objects such as chains, shells, tree logs, books, metal and, as it is the case in this lot, peacock feathers, Bove explores how social history is constructed and how objects become imprinted with the history of the time at which they are created. By recontextualising these found objects in a new time and space, Bove questions the way in which these artefacts operate in a different time: are they nostalgic memories of an era reappearing, or have they always been present?
This lot stands as an eloquent example of Bove’s research. This meticulously assemblage of carefully chosen peacock feathers aligned on linen is presented to us at first as a luxurious, decorative and exotic object. In her task of becoming as a social archaeologist, Bove explores the meaning of peacock feathers through history, from representing the eye of Hera in ancient Greek Mythology, to their iconic role in late nineteenth-century Symbolism, to their similarities with the human eye in Surrealism. These feathers are also heavily present in the 1960’s fashion scene and at a more personal level in her grandmother’s dressing and decorating style, who attempted to be modern but struggled to really engage in the avant-garde. The peacock feather becomes a paradoxical object, striving to be modern but loaded with symbolic and mythical references, thus the feathers become saturated with historical weight.
London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm