The Met Facade
American artist Carol Bove (born 1971) has created four sculptures for The Met Fifth Avenue’s facade niches. The Facade Commission: Carol Bove, The séances aren’t helping is the second commission to be featured on the Museum’s facade and will be on view through fall 2021. Made of sandblasted, contorted stainless-steel tubes and five-foot-wide reflective aluminum disks, the sculptures appear astoundingly lithe and supple, almost mercurial, despite their weight and heft—an effect Bove achieves by pushing her materials to their physical limits using incredible force. Projecting outward from the niches, the works confound perception.
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.
The exhibition is made possible by the Director’s Fund, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, Helene and Johannes Huth, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.Additional support is provided by the John & Amy Griffin Foundation, Inc. and the Speyer Family Foundation.