endless debate. Some see them as related to space (black holes), or to politics. Many react with horror, and see them as devouring mouths. Some feminists (like Judy Chicago) think they empower women by turning vaginas into symbols of strength. Bontecou hasn't helped by occasionally piping up and saying that this or that interpretation is wrong, usually without saying what she did intend.
In the early 1970s, at the height of her fame, Bontecou withdrew from the art world. She left her gallery, stopped taking calls from art people, and moved to a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. For a while she taught one or two courses a year at Brooklyn College, but otherwise she kept to herself. Then for some reason she did finally take a call from a curator who wanted to stage a retrospective. Bontecou agreed, and one result was a big 1993 show. Others followed, culminating in the 2003 blockbuster. When curators visited Bontecou's studio, they found it hung with these wonderful sculptures, which she had never showed.