Untitled (No. 25) (Primary Title)

Lee Bontecou, American, 1931–2022 (Artist)

welded steel, canvas, copper wire
United States
Overall: 72 × 56 × 20 in. (182.88 × 142.24 × 50.8 cm)

“My concern is to build things that express our relationship to this country—to other countries—to this world—to other worlds . . . to glimpse some of the fear, hope, ugliness, beauty, and mystery that exist in us all.” —Lee Bontecou

Between 1959 and 1967, Bontecou made works using canvas wired to a welded-steel framework. These wall-mounted constructions questioned the boundary between painting and sculpture, an issue the artist explored further by using raw canvas as a sculptural material. Bontecou meant her works to defy easy interpretation. Their gaping voids, backed with black, simultaneously invite and repel.

The canvases call to mind army fatigues, laundry bags, or tarps; the wire that attached them suggests sutures closing a wound. Bontecou’s use of common materials allies her with the Assemblage approach of artists like Robert Rauschenberg, and her pared-down materials and interest in geometry hint at Minimalism. But her works’ strong emotions and political and cosmic allusions set her apart from both these movements.

Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis
Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949 - 1962, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, October 6, 2012 – January 14, 2013; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, February 16 – June 2, 2013

Selections from the Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection, Richmond Public Library, Richmond, VA, February 1976

Lee Bontecou, Stadtische Museum, Leverkusen, Germany; Museum Boymans-van-Beunigen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Gesellschaft fur Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany, March - July 1968

Current Trends in Painting, Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT, March - April 1967

Documenta III, Kassel, West Germany, 1964

The Art of Assemblage, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, October 4 - November 12, 1961; Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, Dallas, TX; San Francisco Museum, San Francisco, CA

Leo Castelli Ten Years, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY, 1961
Robert C. Scull, New York. (Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York) by 1973; Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney and Frances Lewis, Richmond, Virginia in October 1973; [1] Gift to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, Virginia in December of 1985.

[1] Lot #1, sale #3558, October 18, 1973. Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York.
© Lee Bontecou

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