Lot 116
  • 116

Rebecca Warren

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Rebecca Warren
  • BoBo
  • bronze with golden patina and branch
  • work: 130 by 30 by 36cm.; 51 1/4 by 11 3/4 by 14 1/8 in.
  • plinth: 52 by 40 by 28cm.; 20 5/8 by 15 3/4 by 11in.
  • Executed in 2006, this work is from an edition of 3.


The artist
Maureen Paley Gallery, London
Thomas Dane Limited, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner


London, Tate Britain, The Turner Prize, 2006, another example exhibited


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate although the overall tonality tends more towards gold in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. All surface irregularities are in keeping with the artist's choice of media and working process. There is evidence of light dust in the work's recesses.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

First exhibited as part of Rebecca Warren’s acclaimed series of sculptural installations at the Tate Britain, for which she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006, BoBo demonstrates Warren’s dexterity and affinity for both the material properties and historical legacy of bronze sculpture. Already well-known for her unfired works in clay and arranged wall-based vitrines, Warren’s Turner Prize series marked a departure for the artist and are among her first works in bronze, used to comment upon the freighted legacy of the medium within art history. The sculpture twists and contorts gracefully upwards with a sense of organic ease, yet alongside its gracefulness, the tall bronze figure evokes a sense of menace and higher significance, taking on the function of a totemic, androgynous symbol. By appropriating and rewriting masculine models of art-making, Warren’s sculpture aims to deconstruct traditional figuration in favour of a process that resists easy categorisation, drawing together the distinctive iconographies of her male antecedents but developing a dialogue around her work that deals with the male gaze, female power, and the legacy of classical sculpture.

Warren’s sculptures move between abstraction and figuration, from the amorphous to the corporeal. Indeed, such shifting form is readily apparent in BoBo, where the artist comments on the reinterpretation of the human body in novel and demanding ways. The purposeful combination of both her engagement with and disassociation from Modernist sculpture enables a distinct mode of artistic production, with Warren confidently asserting her own position within this lineage. She is able to fluidly tackle themes of sexuality through art historical references: the knobbled form of Willem de Kooning, the figurative gestures of Edgar Degas and the existential leanness of Alberto Giacometti are recognisable references in Warren’s artistic praxis and re-interpretation of the human form. Careful homage is paid to these masters, while the subversive quality of her works comes to fruition through the questioning of their authority. In terms of form, the feminine iconography of Warren’s bronze figure is reminiscent of the seductive physique of the so-called ‘Bronze Venus’ – legendary jazz singer Josephine Baker – and her notoriously scant costume for the danse banane.

The title of the present work, BoBo, references a person having both the values of 1960s counterculture and 1980s materialism; a ‘bourgeois Bohemian’. This is reflected in the sculpture’s imbalance and precarious leanings, uncertain and unclear. The ambiguity is seen further through both male and female dimensions, with phallic protrusions juxtaposed against angular crevices in a celebration of the imperfect corporeal form. The classical themes of the ideal nude and male objectification are reformulated here in the sensuality of the bronze, which is then covered in layers of chalky paint to disrupt the work’s sleek finish. BoBo’s production exemplifies the artist’s fascination with the shape-shifting properties of model-making: After receiving the clay models back from the foundry, Warren revises and adds to them before returning them for recasting in bronze. This composite quality, fragmented and disjointed between clay and bronze, expresses a disregard for the latter, historically superlative material. The cast form is then placed on a modest MDF plinth, whose handmade appearance undermines the elevating and heroic narratives of classical sculpture.

Warren embraces both the formal and the grotesque; BoBo appears at once grounded in bodily form, and swept up with an aura of dynamism and flux. A reflection of Warren’s interest in the metamorphosis and rawness of sculpture, from modelling to casting, her work revels in the tension between thought and process, creating figures that remain definitively unfinished. As the artist has said herself, “maybe there’s a kind of alchemy in this no-man’s land, where the base state is movement and transformation... I suppose it’s enjoying the teetering between fixity and the need for nothing ever to be definitive” (Rebecca Warren in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones, in: Exh. Cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, Rebecca Warren, 2009, p. 66).