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Art HERstory: Lee Bontecou


Art HERstory: Lee Bontecou

Art HERstory: Lee Bontecou

When most hear the word ‘sculpture,’ images of naked people, animals, or other easily identifiable nouns come to mind. Every now and then you stumble upon a sculpture that makes you tilt your head, squinch your eyes, and mumble ‘hmmmm’ as if those series of reactions will make you understand what you’re seeing. Lee Bontecou (1931 – ) has to be one of the best in the game when in comes to beautiful creations that make you think so hard your head hurts.

'Untitled' (1980-1998). This chaotic mixture of procelain, wire, canvas, and steel has to be my favorite sculpture. Lee really out-sculpted herself with this one. How do you consciously sculpt an explosion?

'Untitled' (1980-1998). This chaotic mixture of procelain, wire, canvas, and steel has to be my favorite sculpture. Lee really out-sculpted herself with this one. How do you consciously sculpt an explosion?

The Rhode Island native was a student at the Art Students League of New York from 1952 to 1955.  As a student that excelled in her artistic studies, she was awarded a Fullbright Scholarship that provided her with the funds she needed to study art internationally. Lee then traveled to Rome for a year of study. Upon return, she received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. Here awards left her enough funds to sit back and relax for a few years. In the 1970s Lee became a working woman once again. She taught at Brooklyn College until 1991.

'Untitled' (1960). Its 3-dimesional but it hangs? How?

'Untitled' (1960). Its 3-dimesional but it hangs? How?

The most popular of Lee’s work came to life during her break. Her unconventional art blurred the line between sculptures and paintings in more ways than one. Some of her sculptures were 3D welded structures that hung on walls like pictures. I told you they would make you squint!

A young Lee hard at work on one of her mind-boggling sculptures.

A young Lee hard at work on one of her mind-boggling sculptures.

Her first major exhibition was at Leo Castelli’s art gallery in the 1960s. Although the exhibition was 40+ years ago, Lee’s work is still scattered across the United States. One of her largest pieces is now on display in the David H Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in NYC.

Please don't touch! This oversized, blown plastic fish is very fragile!

Please don't touch! This oversized, blown plastic fish is very fragile!

After the Castelli exhibition, Lee and her work disappeared for a few decades. In 2003 a retrospective was co-organized by the Hammer Museum in LA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Lee has since retired from the art world and settled in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania.

Image Layout: Phaymiss

I guess acrylic is for more than nails. This blossoming beauty is a combination of 3 types of plastic: vacuum-formed, tubing, and frosted acrylic.

I guess acrylic is for more than nails. This blossoming beauty is a combination of 3 types of plastic: vacuum-formed, tubing, and frosted acrylic.


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