Lee Bontecou


Painter said...

Lee Bontecou @
11 West 53 Street,
between Fifth and Sixth avenues
New York, NY 10019

Group Show
"what is painting"

Cooky Blaha said...

i am clueless.
always thought this stuff looked like red grooms making a h.r. giger maquette

Cross said...

These things are definitely frightening in person. Like peering (I said peering) down into a sewer. Maybe a comment on where art and society were headed at the time.

Today's version would have blue sky, or maybe smoggy sky, in the center.

(And I refuse to think that O'Keeffe had any influence here.)

flesheater99 said...

always thought this stuff looked like red grooms making a h.r. giger maquette

are you 12?

it's comments like these that make me make comments like these.

artgirl said...

trying to figure this out - is something coming off the painting or is the painting flat but with that curve on the upper right?

Quisquilloso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

oh, painter, two days in a row i am so happy and a believer.

artgirl - it's not flat. here are two photos of a piece in albany. the first photo is from the front, the second is a side view.



incidentally, these photos were taken at that place in albany which charlie finch is so derisive of in his most recent artnet article. it's an amazing collection.

Martin said...

oh, q. beat me while i was trying to figure out how to cut and paste.

No Rush said...

What a prig fleshi. Cookies quip is OK. Some insight there huh?

Is the center of this piece really black velvet?

milf-magic said...

Is that where dana schutz ripped off that idea from?

webthing said...

great work by bontecou
these things are like architecture built around infinite suggestion. to heck with orifice...

is that three french origin in a row?

no-where-man said...

Welded steel and canvas, they have quite a rich odor. female Artist working in the 1960's.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Cooky Blaha said...

i just wanted to spark some enthuisiastic and indignant defense to clue me in.
okay so maybe not giger.
but Moebius.*
The arts and craft sci fi vibe really sticks in my ribs though. I also kinda relate this stuff to the work of Constant Nieuwenhuis(which I like a lot more) who had that great show at the drawing cener in 01 but thats just me.

zipthwung said...

cookie im right there with you.
Especially the fish (later work)
I think for most people will be thinking mostly of Jim Henson's Dark Crystal, HR Giger, the art star in the making Ted "gelfling" Mineo. Labarynth (Henson) and so on and so forth ad nauseum.

Its an esthetic, just like the Jaffee. Who is the progenitor? Is the questions you might ask.

Check out rube goldberg by way of Jean Tinguely.

Odd coincidence because I was looking up Jean just last night.

Speaking of failed infrastructure....

I mean do we care if someone's marbles go in different directions from time to time? Or are we more concerned with the larger picture - the prototype, the paradigm shift, the a-hah moment when a new genre is invented?

Lee isn't one of those. I'd argue that anyone who is, is probably a media invention anyways. Call me jaded and cynical, but I find little that came as a bolt from the blue like a seafoam fuck doll.

Bohemian fog indeed.

And yes, I am 12.

flesheater99 said...

congrats to you for also being deluded then.

there is ZERO mystery in Giger. Film-ready sci-fi i l l u s t r a t i o n. Not to mention it's after the fact...Bontecou is the precedent. Roger Dean presents us with more mystery and he's a damn fool. While Red Grooms comes across like a ham-handed Henson.

apples to oranges

No Rush said...

I feel the progenitor of this genre is Schwitters. She (LB) added the 60s design element--the egg chair feel. I think I mentioned this to Cookie before re: Johansen.

But I'm not that into firsts. I just like good and real. Anybody been watching the Simon schama thing?

zipthwung said...


whatever. WHen I saw Aliens I thought it was pretty fucking mysterious.

After that the franchise went down hill I thought. Too much action, not enough horror.

I was adressing the bio-mechanical esthetic though, not the mystery.

I dont see any more mystery in Lee than Giger - though giger by himself (out of the context of Aliens) is kind of dumb - like later Metallica - not a Megadeth, which has much better lyrics and is a better band overall.

In the same way, Banks Violette is trying to create mystery, but I don't get much of a vibe off of it - he's actually playing the conceptual deconstruction dealio like Daniel Buren's scaffolding in the Guggenheim - but paired with a romantic's need for the invisible world.

Speaking of scaffolding, Im fucking hungry. Could someone send over a hoagie?

zipthwung said...

From the horses mouth:

"As for my contemporaries, it was my personal friends who were the other influences on my basic work; some of whom were never near an art scene. There were several. I've mentioned them elsewhere, but one such was a man named Doc Groupp -- a rough and tough New Yorker who though his main interests were electronics and aviation, painted the most delicately beautiful and sensitive Oriental landscapes on rice paper and mounted them on scrolls; and remaining true to that tradition kept them secluded until very special personal occasions arose worthy of their private display. His scrolls still haunt my imagination.

Coinciding with those personal feelings in the early years, over us all spread the most wonderful period of abstract expressionism that gave young artists a burst of energy and a desire for boundless freedom to break away individually and find new paths. On the purely tangible side of seeking new paths, there were four of us whose work was allied in the late fifties: the sculptors John Chamberlain, Tom Doyle and myself and the painter William Giles. The latter more closely parallel to me due to the need for breaking up the flat rectangular plane. We were all lucky to be working in art at such an exciting time of exploration.

It is in the spirit of all those feelings that my work was and is still being done. "

Yep, she's a romantic.

Cooky Blaha said...

ok i looked a while through google image, found some I could appreciate in some way, but still, is one as a viewer supposed to ignore the (unintended?)correlations with crass design that some of this work brings up? I mean I see starjammers, hellraiser backgrounds, barbarella sets, all kinds of stuff that really gets close to a lot of bonteceau pieces. take this drawing in particular;
its extremely gigeresque to a fault;@flesheater i dont mean to antagonize with this example just interested in how people square off what I see are the inadequacies in a lot of this stuff.
Would it have been an insult if James Cameron had asked Lee for design help?

zipthwung said...

check this out

“The Rocking Machine and the Christ Unlimited figures were not designed especially for A Clockwork Orange. They formed part of my studio work at the time, and, after seeing them there, Kubrick wanted to use them for the film because they probably had the futuristic look he and his wife wanted.

In the late sixties and early seventies, we, London based artists, felt terribly hip. We didn’t want to fight the establishment so much as shock them.

Pop Art was in full swing and so was the sexual revolution, so I combined a penis with a beautifully shaped female rear in fibre glass. I thought this would be really shocking. I thought I could make the object move by constructing a heavy pendulum swing inside. To my surprise I found that it made an irregular movement, so I exaggerated that by adding extra weights in various places. That resulted in Rocking Machine’s specific jerky motion.”

flesheater99 said...

Firstly, Yes Alien and Aliens were both fine films.

Secondly, it wouldnt have been an insult to ask Bontecou for help but he would certainly have had a less hollywood ready world for the alien to prance about in than what giger created. I suspect Bontecou's world would have been made of terrific, impenetrable blackness and imploding silence. Not some greased up toothy cliche of a beast surrounded in smoke and mirrors ready to pounce at the cue of the director and onto any of the above mentioned haevy metal album covers.

and lastly...is one as a viewer supposed to ignore the (unintended?)correlations with crass design that some of this work brings up? yes! try crediting your examples with Bontecou's influence--not vice versa.

This one's on ya'll..I'm off the clock.

Cooky Blaha said...

the thng is there exists a horde of art that has been ripped offed and been influential in design and even further in "low"-art fields,; that still holds up under observation as being unparralled, even at distances of thousands of years.

zipthwung said...

and vice versa.

This is basicly art deco.

-abstractly baroque

those are some of the elements that are grouped under that label.

Funny, banks Violette is Deco, in a way - same look and feel.

Like the Matthew Barney Demolition derby in the Empire State Building.

Same vibe.

zipthwung said...

Tiffany Lamps (lots of female designers)
Donald Desky

Another permutation is the 31 Grand artists who collectively have a sort of deco vibe.

poppy said...

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This is an advertisement that makes me a believer...

loose shoes said...

I feel like Bontecou is a sci-fi abstractionist, which is pretty cool, but maybe a little dangerous (which is even maybe cooler). She's like Syd Mead without the cars, or Rick Wakeman. She's a little like Rick Wakeman. What would Yes be like without the covers of Fragile or Tales from Topographic Oceans? Better or worse or weirder or less weird?

If she coined this aesthetic, I guess some credit is due.

no-where-man said...

she is female - was working in large scale "painting" breaking apart restructuring welding - 'shaping' canvas in the 1960s and 1970s.

for more depth

im not saying "love it" but think Elizabeth Murray... Louise Nevelson.

zipthwung said...

I like syd meade. Hes a giant.

Is art design yet or do we have to wait for the future on that?

Anonymous said...

right, no-where... female. I was wondering where or why the he came in. The fish things I don't get. This I do. It does have that sci-fi feeling, sure, cookie, I'm with ya. But it also has this weird space that when navigated is interesting. She did mention that it was about playing with spaces and lines that come in and out of our expectations of the three dimensions with time. Something like that...

zipthwung said...

She did Alberto one better.

End of story.

zipthwung said...


makes anish kapur look like a diletante.

Old Guy said...

Yeah I agree. It’s all very well saying it belongs with architecture and design, (bio/mechanical/sci-fi) but pretty soon you’re talking about shoulder padding in jackets, matching shoes and hairstyles.


Actually mention of Chamberlain above made me smile. He started out as a ladies’ hairdresser – did it on his GI Bill after the war because he couldn’t get into an art course. Apparently he was pretty good. That cracks me up. I can’t help picturing him trying to build one of those 50s bouffants by throwing a head lock on the client and crushing the hair with his hands and grabbing a spray fixative. The first ‘action’ hairdresser.

Anyway Lee treads a fine line.

zipthwung said...


has some pretty good deep bass. I like that.

poppy said...

Blues Clues had some pretty cool mixed media stuff happening...but now it's gone all puppet and stuffed animal and it kinda sucks....

nat said...

What's sculpture doing on painternyc anyway?

Somebody mentioned Elizabeth Murray, how about Stella. At least he is finally doing some decent sculpture.

As for this sculpture, I'd prefer to look at my car engine-- very nice design Mazda folks--for an economy car, that is. I just had the struts replaced and I must say the struts look better than this too... if you're going to compete with cars you better be able to bring it.

Sunil said...

'What is painting' is a good show. Makes you think amidst all of the multiplicity and divergences of the form at this MoMA show.
Lee Bontecou is one of the extremes contributing to the deviations from the norm and even if we no longer have too much of an idea of what is painting, I think with people like Lee contributing this ‘Serra on a canvas’ type obfuscation, we are all the more enriched. I liked Lee's work - very compelling and ‘new agey’ and redefines the boundaries.
What is painting anyway?

artgirl said...

thanks quis and martin for the links. i've never seen these live so i couldn't quite tell what it was made of. these are interesting.

carol es said...

I saw this in person a couple months ago. Unbelievable. And brilliant.

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