Pratt Mourns the Passing of Richard Bove
Richard Bove with student work in 1959. From the Pratt Institute Archives Negatives Collection.
Richard Bove, BFA Illustration ’42, emeritus faculty member of fine arts, passed away in May. Born in Brooklyn in 1920, Bove cultivated a lifelong career as an artist and educator, influencing generations of Pratt Institute students and forging lasting bonds with faculty.
After graduating in 1942 from Pratt’s Art School, as it was known then, and going on to study at the Art Students League of New York and Brera Academy in Milan as a Fulbright Scholar, Bove returned to Pratt to teach in September 1954. Over the years, he was progressively promoted from assistant professor onward and became a tenured professor in September 1966. Bove taught undergraduate and graduate courses in School of Art and School of Art and Design programs as they evolved over the years—including illustration, industrial design, graphic arts, and fine arts—until 1991, when he was awarded the distinction of Professor Emeritus.
Frank Lind, MFA ’74, professor of fine arts, who met Professor Bove as a graduate student and soon became his friend and later colleague, remembers the support Professor Bove gave to him and his fellow master’s candidates. As they worked to develop their individual artistic voices, Bove would often guide them toward artists who were working in similar registers.
“He was more interested in people getting to what made them tick as painters, as opposed to technique. I remember one student who was doing these deep figurative paintings,” Lind recalls. When Bove mentioned the painter Lucian Freud, whose work the student hadn’t yet been exposed to, Lind says, “it was a revelation for her.”
William T. Williams, BFA Graphic Arts ’66, in a 2018 interview in BOMB, cited Professor Bove as one of the most pivotal influences in his early training as an artist. “He took an interest in me and had me focus on artists whom he thought I should know about,” Williams said. “The turning point in my education at Pratt was when Bove sent me up to the Kootz Gallery to see a Hans Hofmann show. . . . He gave me carfare. I went up to see it, and the freedom of the paint, the exuberance, had me completely turned around. That was a turning point. Everything I had previously thought about painting changed.”
Professor Lind notes that Bove’s commitment to his artistic practice was also a source of inspiration for many students. “He was an extremely hardworking and dedicated painter, so he was a role model for someone as a working artist,” Lind says. He recalls that part of Bove’s routine, on his days off from teaching, was setting out on methodical walks along the streets of Manhattan, taking in the variety of experiences there, in search of the unusual. “He would bring that sense of the unexpected to students, in an elliptical way.”
Today, Bove’s profound impact continues to be felt among the Pratt community. In 2016, he gave a generous gift to the Institute that enabled the Fine Arts Department to present a showcase of alumni work at UNTITLED during Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2018, where the department debuted Pratt Institute Editions (or PIE), a collaborative printmaking initiative that produces fine arts multiples. In addition, Bove’s gift aided the formation of a residency program partnership between the Fine Arts Department and the Siena Art Institute that supports Pratt faculty artists.