Wrapped metal, looped wire, finely detailed sketches, bent wood, and stitched canvas pieces come together to create the art of Lee Bontecou. Her art demands attention and inspection. Not many artists can create art that feels timeless in practice and purpose. She is unique and special without the facade.
Lee Bontecou was born in 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island. Her first solo show was at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City. At that time, she was a rare female artist in a gallery system dominated by male artists. She taught at Brooklyn College from 1971-1991. In the early 1970’s, Bontecou dropped out of the art scene to retreat on a farm in Pennsylvania to focus on art and family. Her work was brought back to to limelight for a retrospective in 1993 at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. According to Bontecou: “I’ve never left the art world. I’m in the real art world.”
Currently the New York MoMA is making a summer push to feature female artists. As a result, Lee Bontecou is featured in an exhibit titled All Freedom in Every Sense till September 6th. Karen Rosenberg of The New York Times: “In the current show biography recedes, allowing a clearer view of the larger cultural context and of the art itself: its sexual and spatial ambiguity, its contrast of rough materials and polished workmanship, its talismanic power.” This statement brilliantly summarizes the power of Bontecou’s art.
However, what is the meaning behind the art? Industry, nature, and outerspace concepts are at the core of her art practice. In earlier work, World War II and similar themes influenced Ms. Bontecou. Not a surprising link due to the fact that her mother worked wiring submarine parts. However, if you examine her art a pattern emerges. It’s the black hole element representing these influences that dominants throughout the numerous bodies of Bontecou’s work.
He art fills a void in the art world.