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b. 1941, USA

Lynda Benglis Biography

Lynda Benglis is an American artist recognised for her poured latex and foam sculptures that she began making in the late 1960s. In eliminating the canvas, Benglis blurred the boundaries between the two previously separate traditions of painting and sculpture. These oozing, biomorphic forms melt hierarchies and distinctions.

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Benglis began by pouring latex and polyurethane foam onto the floor and corners of her studio. Later, she cast these shapes in metals to create a mix of soft and hard physical forms. Benglis' sculptures—a mixture of Abstract Expressionism, process art, transformation, and feminist art—challenged the male-dominated Minimalist movement and trend towards control over painting that pervaded at the time.

In many of her sculptural works, Benglis use pastel colours and craft materials such as glitter and wax to distance herself from the cool colours and 'macho' media used by her contemporaries. One series of works involved Benglis reflecting upon her Greek heritage and producing pieces named after letters of the Greek alphabet. An example of this is Psi (1973)—a glittery, twisted sculptural knot. Another notable series is her pleated metal sculptures, as with the silver and mauve Eridanus (1984).

Though revolutionary in practice, Lynda Benglis' luscious and groundbreaking works went under-recognised in the 1970s New York art scene. In 1974, in response to the male dominance of the art world, Benglis notoriously photographed herself naked—wearing nothing but cat eye sunglasses and holding a dildo against her crotch—and placed the image as an advertisement in Artforum. Though met with much criticism, this famous act did little to elicit response for her work at the time. The artist's willingness to use her own body in photography, however, went down in feminist art history. It also represented an era that saw the likes of Cindy Sherman take self-portraiture to a new level.

Benglis has produced not only sculpture but also video and photographs to explore themes of power, dominance, masculinity, gender relations, and natural forms. An example of this is her video piece, Female Sensibility (1973), made in response to the 1970s belief that a lesbian phase was necessary in the women's movement. In it, Benglis kisses her colleague Marilyn Lenkowsky, leading the viewer to question the role of women and ideas around submission.

In an interview with Ocula Magazine in February 2015, Benglis says of her video work, 'I studied underground filmmaking and I began to think about the difference between video image and film time. . . . I was interested in the idea of investigating moving image in real time, using different contexts.'

Benglis grew up in Louisiana, where she attended McNeese State University. In 1964 she received a BFA in ceramics and painting from Newcomb College in New Orleans. Later she moved to New York, became involved in the art scene there and pursued painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School.

Lynda Benglis Solo Exhibitions include:

Lynda Benglis, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2020); Early Work: 1967–1979, Cheim & Read and Ortuzar Projects, New York (2020); Elephant Necklace, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Louisiana (2019); Lynda Benglis, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2017); Cuerpos, Materia y Alma: Las Esculturas de Lynda Benglis, Museo International del Barroco, Puebla, Mexico (2016); Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK (2015).

Lynda Benglis Group Exhibitions include:

Ceramics: The Central Core Part I, Richard Saltoun Gallery (online exhibition, 2021); Knotted, Torn, Scattered: Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; At The Noyes House Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM and Object & Thing, The Eliot Noyes House, New Canaan, Connecticut (2020); 1967–1980: Explorations, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2019); Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now, Lisson Gallery, New York (2019); Surface Work, Victoria Miro, London (2018); American Masters 1940–1980, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2018).

Ocula | 2021

Lynda Benglis, Power Tower (2019). White tombasil bronze. 226.1 × 162.6 × 182.9 cm. © Lynda Benglis. Courtesy Pace Gallery.

Lynda Benglis Featured Artworks

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Georgia On My Mind by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisGeorgia On My Mind, 2018Cast sparkles on handmade paper over chicken wire
686 x 381 x 229 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Tangipahoa B by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisTangipahoa B, 2013Glazed ceramic
53.3 x 30.5 x 33 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
SCRABBLE by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisSCRABBLE, 2016–17Cast sparkles on handmade paper over chicken wire
68.6 x 96.5 x 54.6 cm
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery
Bird's Nest #2 by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisBird's Nest #2, 2016Glazed ceramic
92.7 x 21.6 x 21.6 cm
Richard Saltoun Gallery Contact Gallery
Power Tower by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisPower Tower, 2019Silicone bronze, unique AP
226.1 x 162.6 x 182.9 cm
Pace Gallery
POWER TOWER by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisPOWER TOWER, 2019White Tombasil bronze
89 x 72 x 64 inches
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery
Calypso by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisCalypso, 2017Cast pigmented polyurethane
104.1 x 71.1 x 38.1 cm
Pace Gallery
CHALK-WAX III by Lynda Benglis contemporary artwork
Lynda BenglisCHALK-WAX III, 1968–1970Pigmented purified beeswax, damar resin on masonite
91.4 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
Cheim & Read Contact Gallery

Lynda Benglis Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Lynda Benglis, An Alphabet of Forms at Pace Gallery, New York
Open Now
5 May–26 June 2021 Lynda Benglis An Alphabet of Forms Pace GalleryNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Ceramics: The Central Core Part 1 at Richard Saltoun Gallery, Online Only, London
Closed
15 February–13 March 2021 Group Exhibition Ceramics: The Central Core Part 1 Richard Saltoun GalleryOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, On View: Seven Works from the Sixties at Cheim & Read, New York
Closed
28 January–13 February 2021 Group Exhibition On View: Seven Works from the Sixties Cheim & ReadNew York

Lynda Benglis Represented By

Blum & Poe contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan Blum & Poe Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo
Cheim & Read contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Cheim & Read New York
Mendes Wood DM contemporary art gallery in São Paulo, Brazil Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery Seoul, New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Beijing
Xavier Hufkens contemporary art gallery in St-Georges, Brussels, Belgium Xavier Hufkens Brussels

Lynda Benglis In Ocula Magazine

Lynda Benglis, Famous for Her Latex Pours, Joins Mendes Wood DM Ocula News Lynda Benglis, Famous for Her Latex Pours, Joins Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, 25 February 2021

The São Paulo-based gallery also represents artists such as Lucas Arruda, Sonia Gomes, Paulo Nimer Pjota, and Kishio Suga.

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Lynda Benglis Ocula Conversation Lynda Benglis By Anna Dickie, New York

I am trying to work with pieces that have a presence in sculpture that goes beyond the formal attitude. They look back at you. You can have abstraction look back you and you can feel something physically.

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Lynda Benglis In Related Press

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Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now Related Press Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now 2 July 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

On some timely occasions, we get the true pleasure to be reminded of T.S. Eliot's 'historical sense' (from his famous 1919 essay Tradition and Individual Talent). This historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past but of its very presence, which simply implies a co-function of simultaneous existence and simultaneous...

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Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show Related Press Surface Work review – women abstract artists dazzle in historic show 15 April 2018, The Guardian

There are certain shows that change one's sense of art. Surface Work is one of them. Spread across two sites, it is nothing less than an anthology of abstract painting spanning an entire century, from early constructivism to post-digital sampling, in which every work holds its own and every work is by a woman. This is a rare and historic event....

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Interview with India Menuez and Lynda Benglis Related Press Interview with India Menuez and Lynda Benglis 12 October 2017, Vogue Italia

It was a Friday afternoon mid-fashion week, but within the calm surrounds of Lynda Benglis’ airy Prince Street loft, that chaos couldn’t have felt further away. Beneath one of the 76-year-old sculptor’s globular polyurethane wall pieces, the performance artist India Menuez, 24, sat on the floor stroking the elf-like ears of Benglis’ dopey...

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Julia Stoschek Collection celebrates 10 years with generation spanning video show Related Press Julia Stoschek Collection celebrates 10 years with generation spanning video show 13 June 2017, The Art Newspaper

Julia Stoschek opened her collection of time-based media art to the public ten years ago, and to celebrate the anniversary she has invited the British artist Ed Atkins to curate an exhibition from her holdings. Generation Loss: 10 Years of the Julia Stoschek Collection (until 10 July 2018) opened this week at Stoschek's Düsseldorf gallery.

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