I am not sure how or why I never learned about this incredible artist when I was in art school and the more art I seem to "discover" on my own makes me more and more angry about the canon of art excluding and without mention absolutely incredible women artists. But before I launch any further into a rant about the gaping holes in the canon of western art let's meet Lee Bontecou.
Lee Bontecou was a very successful artist in the late 1950's and the 1960's. She was represented by New York Galleries and her shows consistently sold out. Much of her work is in permanent collections in places like New York, Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco. She disappeared from the gallery world after her daughter was born, teaching at Brooklyn College and working in solitude and isolation for nearly thirty years. A retrospective of her work both the early sculptural work and her later works on paper was exhibited at the Hammer Museum in LA in 2003. The show later travelled to MOCA in San Francisco and to MOMA in New York in 2004.
In the early part of her career she worked mainly in sculpture creating massive pieces which project off the gallery wall toward the viewer. She combines traditional materials of painting, canvas and her pieces hang on the wall like a traditional painting but they are anything BUT traditional. Her pieces include welded and stitched canvas and hide which feel industrial and mechanical yet organic in a terrible haunting sort of way. Each piece contains at its centre a vortex completely void of light – literally a black hole.
She was greatly influences by the trauma of World War 2 and later by space exploration and the world of astronomy but she refuses to label herself or her work. It is very clear that she doesn't care what you think of her work and struggles against anyone who may try to define it.
Lee Bontecou just celebrated her 83 birthday and is still working away in her studio doing whatever the hell she pleases, no doubt. I will leave you with a quote that struck me as vital to understanding the creative process:
"[Drawing] can get your imagination moving and you can work from your inner world rather than always from the external world"
|Soot Drawing 1958|
You read more about this incredibe artist and her work here and to see more of her work do a google image search or type her name into Pinterest
Have a look at her work and share your thoughts and comments below.