A Tribe Called Quest
In the Artist's Statement with which the catalogue properly begins, Bontecou writes:
Since my early years until now, the natural world and its visual wonders and horrors--man-made devices with their mind-boggling engineering feats and destructive abominations, elusive human nature and its multiple ramifications from the sublime to unbelievable abhorrences--to me are all one.
And she adds: "We were all lucky to be working in art at such an exciting time of exploration." The 1960s made her possible without in any serious way accounting for what she achieved. From what I can tell, Bontecou abandoned the kinds of objects with which she will always be identified before she abandoned the art world itself--gave up making these "destructive abominations" and "unbelievable abhorrences"--in favor of objects of transparent fragility, evoking the wonders of the natural world. There is certainly the kind of continuity with the early work that justifies her saying that "it is all one" to her. She still uses welded armatures, to which pieces of fabric are fastened with twisted wire. There is always the acid taste of edginess. But the fearsomeness has more or less vanished or been naturalized, as in the armored fish she makes. Had she done everything in the show except those early objects of otherworldly monstrosity, she would certainly have been a wonderful artist. But would anyone have wondered whatever happened to her had she stopped showing them, even if she continued to make more of them for her own sake or theirs?