all freedom in every sense; lee bontecou


A young and fashionable sculptor in the  1950’s and 60’s, Lee Bontecou won a Fulbright scholarship to work in Rome, had sell-out shows and work bought by public galleries.  Her large scale scultpures were wall mounted metal covered with canvas and most centred around black holes just before the black hole phenomenon was discovered by astrophysists.

Bontecou soon became disillusioned with the commercialism and competitiveness of the art world (particularly when a client asked her to make a sculpture smaller so it could fit better), so in the 1970’s, she ‘disappeared’. She moved out to a farm with her husband, grew their food and had a litle girl. She taught at a nearby art college two days a week but continued to work on her sculptures at night.

In 2003, after decades of obscurity,  an art curator from MoMA wanted to put together a retrospective of  Bontecou’s work from the 60’s but no-one knew how to find her so she decided to go ahead with the show regardless. After some detective work, she did manage to find the ‘vanished’ artist who took quite some convincing to get in contact. The curator was shocked when invited into the farm studio to find it bursting with extraordinary never-seen sculptures like the one below.

The huge mobile work made from wire, porcelain and fabric, took twelve years to make and explodes like a galaxy without borders.  A lot of her work is quite dark and challenging and not something you or I might hang in our dining rooms but that’s exactly what Lee Bontecou was escaping. The works are all untitled and she called her 2004 show “All Freedom in Every Sense.”