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Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)
Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)
Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)
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Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)
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Fields of Vision: The Private Collection of Artists Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason
Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)

Untitled

Details
Lee Bontecou (b. 1931)
Untitled
signed and dated 'BONTECOU 1959' (on a side edge)
welded steel, canvas and wire
7 x 11 ½ x 7 ¼ in. (17.8 x 29.2 x 18.4 cm.)
Executed in 1959.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the late owners

Brought to you by

Paige Kestenman
Paige Kestenman Specialist

Lot Essay

In the fall of 1956, Emily Mason set off for Venice to attend the Accademia delle Belle Arti on a Fulbright scholarship. Among her fellow scholars was Lee Bontecou, with whom Mason shared a room during their sail across the Atlantic. The two became close friends, and the present work was later acquired by Mason and Wolf Kahn directly from the artist. For nearly fifty years, it was installed on a wall of the family's Stuyvesant Square walk-up apartment, where it was used as a secret piggybank.

This box-shaped sculpture of welded steel, canvas and wire dates from 1959, the year Bontecou first explored blackened voids within her sculptures. Living over a laundry on New York’s Lower East Side, she collected scraps from discarded laundry bags and conveyer belts, wiring them together to cover her constructions. As Paul Trachtman explains, “She started making small boxes by welding a steel frame and covering all the sides in canvas—with a circular hole cut in one side to allow viewers to see into the black interior. ‘To me it was like the whole universe,’ she says. ‘It was exciting. I kept dreaming and dreaming about these things, and then they got bigger.’…She was at work on these sculptures when she heard on the radio that astronomers were searching for mysterious objects out in space they called ‘black holes.’ It was as if her art had collided with the cosmos.” (“Lee Bontecou’s Brave New World," Smithsonian Magazine, September 2004)

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