Lee Bontecou (American, b.1931) is a sculptor and printmaker best known for her 1959 and 1960s canvas and iron sculptures, which hang on the wall like paintings. Bontecou was born in Providence, RI. For two years, she attended Bradford Junior College in Haverhill, MA. From 1952 to 1955, Bontecou attended the Art Studies League of New York. Her first class at the Art Studies League was taught by painter Robert Brackman (American, 1898–1980). She later studied with William Zorach (Lithuanian, 1887–1966), a fellow sculptor. Bontecou was granted Fulbright Scholarships in 1956 and 1958, which allowed her go to Rome to study sculpture and drawing. While in Rome, she created Abstract sculptures using terra cotta, but she later transitioned to creating welded iron sculptures.
In 1959, the artist received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. During this time, Bontecou created Untitled (1959) and Untitled (1960), which were made with welded steel, canvas, wire, and black fabric. In the fall of 1960, Bontecou's first solo show was hosted by the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. Later, she began vacuum-forming plastic to create sculptures reminiscent of both gas masks and flowers, such as Untitled (1967). These pieces, which represented a sharp departure from her previous work, were shown by the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1971.
After the 1971 show, the artist left the gallery to avoid the pressures of having to create sculptures for new shows. From 1971 to 1991, Bontecou taught art at Brooklyn College in New York. She also continued her work at her residence in rural Pennsylvania. After teaching, Bontecou retired to Obisonia, PA. A 2003 retrospective, called Lee Bontecou: A Retrospective, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, exhibited works she had completed during her retirement as well as pieces from her past shows. Starting in July 2004, the Museum of Modern Art in New York also hosted this retrospective. The Museum of Modern Art presented its own Bontecou retrospective in 2010, called All Freedom in Every Sense. The artist currently lives and works in Pennsylvania.