Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection

Lee Bontecou. Untitled. c. 1958

Soot on paperboard, 30 x 40" (76.2 x 101.6 cm). The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2022 Lee Bontecou

Curator, Christian Rattemeyer: A few artists represented in the contemporary drawings collection span ... the entire range, from the mid-1950s to today, as they were re-introduced, or rediscovered, at the time the collection was formed.

Lee Bontecou's drawing, Untitled, from 1958, is a particularly stunning example of the kinds of material experimentations that ... evolved around that period.

Narrator: Already adept at welding, Bontecou found, almost by accident, that by changing the balance of gases on her oxy-acetylene torch, it expelled a stream of soot. The effect produced a dense opaque layer of black, darker and more mysterious, than a charcoal drawing.

Lee Bontecou.

Artist Bontecou: I had a lot of paper up on my wall and I turned the oxygen off on my tanks and started drawing with the acetylene and the more you turn it up, the more it comes out. You know, the soot. Whether they were good or bad, for me it was like a wonderful feeling of, 'I finally got that dark that I wanted, and a black that I wanted. And a kind of landscape or a worldscape. It just opened up kind of a new thought.

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