Lee Bontecou: Drawn Worlds

Michelle White, with writings by Dore Ashton and Joan Banach. Menil Collection (Yale Univ., dist.), $50 (144p) ISBN 978-0-300-20413-1
Although Bontecou is known primarily for her sculpture, this catalogue of her exhibition at the Menil Collection in Houston and the Princeton University Art Museum reveals the enormous range and allure of her drawings, featuring work from the late 1950s to the present day. The images—sensuous forms of smudged soot; precisely rendered sketches of fish and insects; scratched ink, graphite, and colored pencil abstracts evoking imaginary landscapes, waves, and otherworldly creatures and machines—intermingle organic and industrial forms. The result is a pulsing universe, alternately enticing and sinister, sensuous and terrifying. As White writes, these works "pull viewers into the cerebral and hallucinatory spheres of the psyche." She describes Bontecou's vision as emerging from post-WWII culture, with "reverberations of the Holocaust, the seeming expansion of the heavens as space exploration became a reality, apocalyptic Cold War fears of toxic demise, and budding environmental fatalism." Perhaps it's because these concerns are even more urgently alive today that Bontecou's images resonate with contemporary video game and sci-fi imagery. This unexpected congruence may attract gaming- and media-obsessed new viewers, as well as older art lovers delighted at Bontecou's reemergence into the public sphere. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/05/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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