18k gold, 19th Century silk damask, armature wire, pinewood, hardware
8.50 x 9 x 5.50 in (21.59 x 22.86 x 13.97 cm)
Bouquet, 2001, is a collaborative sculpture between Richard Tuttle and Kiki Smith, two artists who have maintained a close personal friendship for many years. Bouquet came into existence after we began working with Tuttle and he suggested that he would like to work on a specific project with Smith. His suggestion became a joint venture between the two. The sculpture started out as an exercise in the way that a delicate and beautiful piece of textile could be displayed sculpturally, rather than framed and mounted behind glass. Tuttle's love of textiles, and his desire to be able to touch them as well as see them, brought him to Bouquet's basic shape. The fabric element was cut from a single piece of 19th Century silk damask, which the artist found in his travels and specifically thought of for this edition. The age of the fabric and the fact that it had been repaired in numerous places made each number in the edition somewhat unique. The full, unfolded size of the silk also dictated the size of the edition. A crude armature was then created by Tuttle in his studio. It is made of simple unfinished pine, armature wire and hardware, materials common in the artist's oeuvre. The exchange then began between the two. Smith's contribution to Bouquet began as a simple piece of jewelry, cast from her own body. She cast the tip of her tongue in 14 karat gold, which she then fashioned into a stick pin and mounted various ways on the armature and silk. At times, the piece recalls a reliquary, with a part of the artist's body being sumptuously offered forth. The final result came to both of them when the pin was placed on the tip of the 'wave' or silk tongue-shaped curve that is the top of the piece. The pin manages to bring two of Smith's interests into one object: it is a body piece with roots going back to some of her earliest work, but also a purely decorative item, one meant to be handled, worn and enjoyed for its sheer luxury of material. Bouquet was titled after a day when the two artists spent many hours working together in Smith's light and flower-filled studio. There is a subtle flower pattern running through the silk, but a general mood of senses co-mingling finally brought the title into being.