Lee Bontecou

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This is a reprise of a theme I have written about here before, but I can’t not revisit it again after having recently seen vibrant, extraordinary shows by women artists in their 70′s and 80′s. Many women artists who were shorted on the visibility and acknowledgements granted their male peers are making up for lost time. What’s more, they are still working and evolving, their shows full of fresh and lively explorations. (For more on this theme see my post, So Chic After All These Years, and an article in the Financial Times, In Praise of Older Women by Jackie Wullschlager.)

The current show of work by Lee Bontecou at Freedman Gallery continues the themes that spellbound so many of us back in 2004 when the Hammer Museum and MoMA QNS hosted a long-awaited retrospective of Bontecou’s work. She’s 80 years old now and going strong, still moving from playful sculptural forms (including two imaginative sandbox assemblages) to those meticulous and breathtakingly beautiful drawings. Everybody loves Lee Bontecou. With good reason. She deserves every accolade she is getting, arriving so late in a lifelong career.

Betty Woodman, also in her 80s, is another who has labored long and tirelessly. Married to artist George Woodman (who at one point was her ceramic student!) and mother to artist Francesca Woodman (whose current show at the SFMOMA knocked me out), Betty has been blowing out her particular blend of ceramics and painting for a long time. The show now on view at Salon 94 on the Bowery is wildly enchanting. It feels particularly celebratory, exuberant and life affirming. Woodman’s aesthetic feels ageless.

Pat Hickman‘s show at the University Art Museum (at U Mass Dartmouth’s New Bedford location), curated by my friend Lasse Antonsen, is a feast of texture and tacticity. I am new to her work and must thank Marcia Goodwin for encouraging me to catch the show before it closes on January 27.

On a similar theme: Like many of my female artist friends, we do The Count when visiting the contemporary collections on view at museums. How many women artists are on display? The Met score is improving. I know, it is slow progress. But on my last walk through there were works up by Jenny Saville, Susan Rothenberg, Ellen Gallagher, Kusama, Pat Steir, Bridget Riley, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Liza Lou.


Installation view of the Lee Bontecou show at the Freedman Gallery, New York


The Bontecou show includes two of these sandbox assemblages. Delicious and enchanting.


Drawing by Bontecou. (Sorry for the interference reflection.)


Betty Woodman installation at Salon 94, New York


Another view of the Woodman show


Woodman’s work captures a Mediterranean spirit (which given a home in Florence is no surprise)


Pat Hickman installation, New Bedford


Hickman’s transcendent organicism


Close up of the surface of Hickman’s hinged gate

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