Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds

Overview

Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) established a significant reputation in the 1960s with pioneering sculptures and reliefs made of raw and expressionistic materials. Her art is simultaneously organic and mechanical, and infused with biological, geological, and technological motifs.  These same qualities also animate a less-known but compelling body of work: her drawings. Ranging from her early soot on paper works created using powder from a welding torch to recent drawings in pencil and colored pencil that evoke ...

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Overview

Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) established a significant reputation in the 1960s with pioneering sculptures and reliefs made of raw and expressionistic materials. Her art is simultaneously organic and mechanical, and infused with biological, geological, and technological motifs.  These same qualities also animate a less-known but compelling body of work: her drawings. Ranging from her early soot on paper works created using powder from a welding torch to recent drawings in pencil and colored pencil that evoke cosmoses and microcosmic worlds, this stunning book is the first retrospective survey of Bontecou’s consistently innovative drawings.  More than sixty full-color plates, populated by imagery ranging from black voids to mechanomorphs to hybrid descendants of teeth, plants, and fish, are complemented by original essays from leading scholars who explore themes such as the drawings’ historical contexts, Bontecou’s use of the iconography of the void, and the eco-apocalyptic themes of an artist who came of age in the roiling political atmosphere of the 1960s.  

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
05/05/2014
Although Bontecou is known primarily for her sculpture, this catalogue of her exhibition at the Menil Collection in Houston and the Princeton University Art Museum reveals the enormous range and allure of her drawings, featuring work from the late 1950s to the present day. The images—sensuous forms of smudged soot; precisely rendered sketches of fish and insects; scratched ink, graphite, and colored pencil abstracts evoking imaginary landscapes, waves, and otherworldly creatures and machines—intermingle organic and industrial forms. The result is a pulsing universe, alternately enticing and sinister, sensuous and terrifying. As White writes, these works "pull viewers into the cerebral and hallucinatory spheres of the psyche." She describes Bontecou's vision as emerging from post-WWII culture, with "reverberations of the Holocaust, the seeming expansion of the heavens as space exploration became a reality, apocalyptic Cold War fears of toxic demise, and budding environmental fatalism." Perhaps it's because these concerns are even more urgently alive today that Bontecou's images resonate with contemporary video game and sci-fi imagery. This unexpected congruence may attract gaming- and media-obsessed new viewers, as well as older art lovers delighted at Bontecou's reemergence into the public sphere. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300204131
  • Publisher: Menil Foundation
  • Publication date: 4/22/2014
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 309,073
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle White is curator at The Menil Collection, Houston. Dore Ashton is an art critic and art historian. Joan Banach is an artist who lives and works in New York City.

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