Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lee Bontecou: Framing The Age

Lee Bontecou, Untitled, (1980-1998), welded steel, porcelain, wire mesh, canvas, wire (at the MoMA, NYC).  Image uploaded from an article in The Brooklyn Rail online; click here.

Bontecou, Untitled (1959), welded steel, black canvas, wire (at the MoMA).

Bontecou, Untitled, (1997), graphite on paper.

[Fair use rationale:  Lee Bontecou is the copyright holder of these images and the underlying artwork; Lobster & Canary presents them here solely for educational purposes, i.e., as part of commentary on the artwork; the images are low-resolution, uploaded from Wikipedia-- click here.]

Lee Bontecou continues to inspire me, her work to draw me in like that of few other living artists.  

Architecture that floats.  Spirals and swirls that create space.   I think of da Vinci's notebooks, of Tatlin's sculptures, of Miro and Arshile Gorky.   Of Matisse and his cut-outs. 

But above all her work is Bontecovian, not really much like anyone else's.  Bontecou brings me to a world simultaneously jagged and supple that is wholly her own. 

She is now 82, and arguably producing some of her best work ever.   Nationally prominent in the '50s and '60s, she left the NYC art world in 1971, moving to a hamlet in central Pennsylvania (though she continued to teach at Brooklyn College until 1991).   She worked on her own terms for decades before returning to public attention with retrospectives in 2003-'04 in LA, Chicago and NYC and again in 2010 (at the MoMA).  

I love her fierce dedication to her own process and vision.  How many artists have the courage and tenacity to leave the big stage...and then return thirty years later?  How many continue to produce at the highest levels   so late in life (to re-define what we understand about life and its parameters)?

Bontecou is one of the dozen or so artists whose work will come to define our era. 

For more, click here

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