Hybrid Species: Lee Bontecous Sculpture and Works on Paper, 1958–1971


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art and Archaeology


Though known today for being forgotten, sculptor Lee Bontecou (b. 1931) was broadly recognized in the early and mid- 1960s as the leading female artist of her generation. This dissertation, the first book-length study devoted to Bontecou's oeuvre, treats the metal and fabric wall reliefs which catapulted her to fame in the early 1960s; it studies her rather poorly received vacuum-formed sculptures of fish and flower forms in translucent plastic, made from 1967 to 1971; and it concerns the prints and drawings that Bontecou made consistently across the period 1958-1971. Focusing on the period of Bontecou's most active public production, this dissertation offers a long-overdue narrative of Bontecou's body of work, honing in on hybridity; it examines the artist’s reception; and it negotiates her position in the field of sixties and seventies sculpture as both eccentric and exemplary.