Bontecou, Lee (1931–)

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Bontecou, Lee (1931–)

American sculptor. Born 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island; raised in Westchester Co., NY; attended Art Students League, 1952–55; studied in Rome; m. Bill Giles (artist); children: daughter.

Began by sculpting animal and bird forms; in NY, started using lightweight frames filled with wire mesh, canvas and muslin to impart a sense of depth and illusion; often added large circular openings to her work (1959); the only woman then in the stable of the NY Leo Castelli Gallery, set the art scene alight with what one critic called "belligerent art" (1960s), then seemed to vanish, walking away from Castelli's in 1972; retreated with husband to their Pennsylvania farmhouse (1967), commuting to teach at Brooklyn College in NYC (1971–91); went 30 years without a solo show, but continued to work in a studio on the farm; saw a major retrospective co-organized by the UCLA Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, which then traveled to MoMA in NY (2004).