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Lee Bontecou (born Jan. 15, 1931 in Providence, Rhode Island); American sculptor and printmaker and a pioneer figure in the NY art world. She kept her work consistently in a recognizable style, and received broad recognition in the 1960s. Bontecou made abstract sculptures in the 1960s and 1970s and created vacuum-formed plastic fish, plants, and flower forms in the 1970s. Rich, organic shapes and powerful energy appear in her drawings, prints and sculptures. Her work has been shown and collected in many major museums in the United States and in Europe.
Bontecou attended Bradford Junior College (now Bradford College) in Haverhill, Massachusetts for her general education and then attended the Art Students League of New York from 1952 to 1955, where she studied with the sculptor William Zorach. She also spent the summer of 1954 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where she learned to weld. She received a Fulbright scholarship from the US-Italy Fulbright Commission to study in Rome in 1957-58. In 1971, she began teaching at Brooklyn College.
Bontecou's work is deeply affected by WWII. Both her parents joined the war effort. Her mother wired transmitters for submarine navigation and her father sold gliders for the military. Growing up, she would spend summers with her grandmother in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where she developed a love of the natural world. She had an older brother, Hank.
Bontecou is best known for the sculptures she created in 1959 and the 1960s, which challenged artistic conventions of both materials and presentation by hanging on the wall. They consist of welded steel frames covered with recycled canvas and industrial materials (such as conveyor belts or mail sacks) and other found objects. Her best constructions are at once mechanistic and organic, abstract but evocative of the brutality of war.
...In the 1960s, Bontecou's work was hailed for its unique position in between...