Remembering Lee Bontecou and Her Volcanic Hell Holes

Jerry Saltz at Vulture:

In 1972, the American artist Lee Bontecou, who died this week at age 91, showed a series of plastic flowers and vacuum-formed fish and sea creatures in New York. She felt she got bad reviews and left the city, settling in rural Pennsylvania, where, with her artist husband, she raised a child (“Having a baby was the most wonderful piece of sculpture I ever made,” she later said). For 20 years she commuted to Brooklyn College to teach, but her low-to-no profile turned her into a kind of ghost artist.

She was also already a legend. In 1962, Donald Judd, citing her three-dimensional works — raw canvas stitched together in great bulging forms over wire armature, erupting from their frames like volcanic hell holes — called her “one of the best artists working anywhere.” He was right. Bontecou’s best-known pieces, which have been referred to as “vagina dentata” (only art by women gets this sort of restrictive treatment), were simultaneously painting and sculpture, embodiments of a mythic libido and an anarchic consciousness. When Eva Hesse saw her work, she said, “I am amazed at what this woman can do.”

more here.