Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds
January 25 — May 18, 2014
Spanning over 50 years, the career of American artist Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) has been defined by
her pioneering sculptures of fiberglass, cloth and rubber stretched over metal armatures. Shown at
Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1960, her work was praised by artist Donald Judd as powerful,
awesome, menacing and entirely unique. Less known, her drawings are an equally vital
component of her work, a form of making she continues to produce, and a practice that forcefully
reveals the artist’s importance within the history of art.
This exhibition is the first retrospective presentation of Bontecou’s drawings. The carefully edited
selection of work from 1958 to 2012, will showcase the artist’s experimentation with materiality
through gesture, mark, and technique. This includes her early use of a welding blowtorch to
deposit velvety layers of black soot on paper, muslin and canvas. It also examines the historical
context of her repetitive imagery, tracing the artist’s apocalyptic themes and use of the cavernous
iconology of the circle and the void, to the Vietnam War, space age politics, atomic bombs and
contemporary environmental catastrophe.
Other museum exhibitions of the artist’s work have paired her drawing with her sculpture,
including her 2003 retrospective. This show will seek to define her drawing as a separate way of
making and seeing, so as to provide an entirely new perspective on Bontecou as an artist who has
perpetually challenged the modernist division of form and content. With gaping black holes,
undulating forms and organic twisted lines, her surreal drawings are fantastic spatial reflections
about how we understand our place in the world, and the obstacles to overcoming desire for
rational ways of being.
Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds, is curated by Michelle White, Curator, and will be accompanied
by an illustrated catalogue with new scholarly texts. The exhibition will be available for traveling
beginning in the late spring of 2014.
This exhibition is funded in part by the City of Houston.