Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to present a selection of drawings on graph paper by Lee Bontecou which have never been exhibited outside of the artist’s studio and are exemplary in their staging and ingenuity. This exhibition is presented in cooperation with Bill Maynes, the artist’s sole representative.
Describing them as “constellation drawings,” Joan Banach has commented that they are “parallel to the optical experiments that take place in her
sculpture and demonstrate how drawing functions as a discreet feature of her work. Beginning in the late 1950s, Bontecou was salvaging materials for both her sculpture and her drawings, and choosing various graph papers and accounting ledgers, ruled at varied coordinate scales, for her compositions – a choice that is sustained to the present day.” A significant installation of these works was included in Lee Bontecou’s 2017 exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum den Haag and was acquired by the museum for its permanent collection.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1931, Bontecou attended Bradford Junior College in Haverville, Massachusetts, and shortly thereafter enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City, where she made sculpture her decisive focus. In 1954, at a residency at The Skowhegan School in Maine, Bontecou began to weld, a technical process that would be essential to the incomparable bas-relief sculptures and soot drawings that brought her work to international prominence. In early recognition of her precocity as an artist, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1956, which brought her to Rome. During her two-year residency, she began her experimental use of the welding torch as an instrument for sculpture, and an innovative instrument for drawing. In 1960, the Leo Castelli Gallery presented Bontecou’s first solo exhibition in New York.
This acclaimed beginning led to numerous exhibitions. The following are selected highlights: William Seitz’ historic 1961 exhibition, The Art of Assemblage, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Americans 1963, curated by Dorothy Miller, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Documenta III, Kassel, Germany, 1964; Sculpture Annual, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; American Drawing: 1970-73, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1973; Lee Bontecou in Retrospect, Hathorn Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, 1977; The Second Dimension: Twentieth-Century Sculptors’ Drawings, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York 1993; Lee Bontecou 1958-1972, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1999; Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2003-2004; the 54th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, Penn, 2004; Tracing the Century: Drawing as a Catalyst for Change, Tate Liverpool, 2012; Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds, The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, 2013; Lee Bontecou, The Gemeentemuseum den Haag, The Netherlands, 2017. In 2019, Bontecou was awarded the Gold Medal for Sculpture by The American Academy of Arts and Letters.