North American artist, Lee Bontecou, is to be honored for the first time since over thirty years with an exhibition in Europe. On the occasion of her 80th birthday, the ZKM provides a glimpse into the artist’s innovative work during the 1960s. It was her extraordinary three-dimensional wall art that made Bontecou – as one of the few women contemporaries in the art scene – a central female artist. The exhibition, »Lee Bontecou. Insights«, displays a selection of her internationally recognized works of the 1960s.
The ‘60s of the 20 century spawned most of what was innovative in art: Minimal Art, Pop Art, Concept Art, Arte povera, but also Performance and Happening established themselves as artistic styles. And yet it was not only the ideas, but also the use of materials which was to break new ground in art. One of the few women to have occupied an important and internationally recognized position in the western art scene of the era, was Lee Bontecou (*1931). Her work was presented, for example, in several important exhibitions, at the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1961, or at the documenta III in Kassel, in 1964. Furthermore, Bontecou may well be characterized as an artist’s artist, since numerous artists have been inspired by her work.
Impressed by the technical achievements in science and space travel, as well as a new art-immanent material aesthetics, Lee Bontecou produced an especially unique body of work. Beginning with figurative sculptures and abstract smoke signals, towards the end of the 1950s it was the large, three-dimensional wall art, at once picture, relief, and sculpture which then began to emerge.