In 1972, when I was a deeply green, 19-year-old Midwestern art student, I was blown away by a Lee Bontecou survey in Chicago. Here were these bilious, bulbous things, ominous, outlandish, alarming, and alluring—organisms unto themselves, neither sculpture nor painting, but something between cave painting, constructivism, intrauterine architecture, and the gates of hell. Made of welded metal, copper wire, sooty canvas, and army-surplus supplies, they were modern but not in the minimal, pop, or conceptual ways I was learning about. They were modern in a pre-modern, almost archaic way, like Giacometti's stick people or Golub's brutes. I had already been floored by the modern primitivism of Eva Hesse, who had been wowed by Bontecou: "I am amazed at what this woman can do," Hesse wrote. Bontecou struck me as far less experimental, dynamic, or contemporary than Hesse. She was more of an angsty throwback to abstract expressionism. Bontecou had said, "I want to awaken in the beholder some dormant reality." Old-school or not, that's the reality she... More >>>