Collection 1940s–1970s

Lee Bontecou. Untitled. 1961 409

Welded steel, canvas, fabric, rawhide, copper wire, and soot, 6' 8 1/4" x 7' 5" x 34 3/4" (203.6 x 226 x 88 cm). Kay Sage Tanguy Fund. © 2021 Lee Bontecou

Lee Bontecou (archival): I was trying to search out for my own language, my own statement. I started to try to get a space that could go endless.

Curator, Ann Temkin: There’s this wonderful, deep opening. You almost feel like you’re looking at a volcano from a bird’s eye view. You don’t know where that hole ends, and you don’t know what might be contained within it. Bontecou creates that sense of mystery by what she builds up around that opening, which is this marvelous combination of fabric attached to these very irregular shapes, all pushing outward.

Lee Bontecou: I used to live over a laundry. And the old conveyor belts, he just threw away and I was just really lucky. Nice heavy canvas and that had some good old fashioned grease and the right color, and I used to take them and cut the pieces of canvas and stretched them in there with wire.

Ann Temkin: Her work has the feel, to me, of downtown New York in the 1950s and ‘60s. Bontecou could go out into the street and collect all sorts of trash and discarded materials that really allowed her to make her art of out her neighborhood, to make her art a thing of place as well as of her own imaginary vision.

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