New York

Lee Bontecou

Knoedler & Company

Lee Bontecou achieved success in the early 1960s with shaped paintings and wall-mounted assemblages that hovered on the edge of figuration, vaguely suggesting bodies, buildings, and machines. Though resistant to narrative, the works’ telescoping elements lend them an aggressive feel, while their orifices seem to suggest a secret, subcutaneous functionality. Shreds of canvas tied to welded steel armatures, some incorporating menacing, mouthlike saw blades, transcend the aesthetic of impoverishment as a purely formal device to suggest pathologies of the unknown, war, and death. A ongoing sequence of drawings of gas masks, begun in 1961, complements this bleak vision.

By the late ’60s, Bontecou’s latent references to hybrid natural-artificial forms had effloresced into sculptures and drawings of fish and flowers, and it was a selection of these works (some of which were first exhibited at Leo

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 2007 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.