Lee Bontecou  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Lee Bontecou (1931 – 2022) was an American sculptor and printmaker and a pioneer figure in the New York art world. She kept her work consistently in a recognizable style, and received broad recognition in the 1960s. Bontecou made abstract sculptures in the 1960s and 1970s and created vacuum-formed plastic fish, plants, and flower forms in the 1970s. Rich, organic shapes and powerful energy appear in her drawings, prints, and sculptures. Her work has been shown and collected in many major museums in the United States and in Europe.

She challenged artistic conventions of both materials and presentation by creating sculpture that hung on the wall like a painting. She used industrial and found materials including screen, pipe, burlap, canvas and wire. Her best constructions are at once mechanistic and organic, abstract but evocative of the brutality of war.

She is best known for the constructions she created in the 1960s, which art critic Arthur Danto describes as "fierce", reminiscent of 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke's Micrographia, lying "at the intersection of magnified insects, battle masks, and armored chariots...” [Danto 2004]. She showed at Leo Castelli's art gallery in the 1960s, and there is a large piece of hers in the State Theater of New York, New York City's Lincoln Center. She retired from the art world to Orbisonia, Pennsylvania [Danto 2004]. After decades of obscurity, she was brought back to public attention by a 2003 retrospective coorganized by the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, that traveled to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2004. The retrospective included both work from her public, art-world career and an extensive display of work done after retreating from the public view [Danto 2004]. Bontecou's work was also included in Carnegie Museum of Art Carnegie International 2004-5 exhibit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island), the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), New York State Theater and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) are among the public collections holding major works by Lee Bontecou.


A picture of Lee working in her studio, taken by Italian photographer Ugo Mulas in 1963, was used as the cover art for Spoon's 2007 album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The apparently completed sculpture on the right is now in the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts (see Gallery below).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lee Bontecou" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools