Carol Bove at David Zwirner


Carol Bove has been called ‘the woman of steel’. It is true that her work is made largely of steel but nevertheless the epithet still seems to me to vaguely sexist. It is however also true that her work is often compared to artists such as John Chamberlain, Tony Caro and Mark di Suvero.. She was born in 1971 and her work is informed by an extensive knowledge of the history of Modernism, in particular Minimalism. The plot deepens however when we learn that she was also fascinated by the counterculture, as exemplified by Lionel Ziprin, the mystic of the Lower East Side, best known for his Songs of Schizoids.


Nevertheless one feels, at least at first glance, that this recent sculpture would not look out of place in the kind of Manhattan office space which ‘boasts’ a large and shiny Jeff Koons. Huge tubes of various kinds of steel have been bent and crumpled on the gantry in her Brooklyn studio. They have then been coated by a soft matte surface so that the they seem almost to be made of a lightweight kind of cardboard. This velvety finish contrasts with the hard shine of a black disc, which plays a number of different roles in different pieces.

This sculpture however is not simply imposing and formally accomplished. It evokes a particular relationship with the industrial material that still surrounds us in our post-industrial world. And this, perhaps surprisingly, makes it feel very modern. At the same time there is something odd, something elusive, which means that once experienced in the round, this sculpture stays with you for a long time afterwards.

Carol Bove is at David Zwirner in Grafton Street until 3 August.


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