NEW YORK, NY.-
The New Museum
presents a major exhibition of works by Lynda Benglis, the renowned American artists first museum retrospective in over twenty years. Benglis is an artist whose work continues to challenge artistic norms and exceed easy definition. Initially developed in the 1960s, her singular practice did not fit clearly within the sharp aesthetics of Minimalism or in the overtly political gestures of feminist art. Unlike Minimalist sculpture, Bengliss works are steeped in the organic, with rivers of vibrant colors and erotic melting forms populating her sculptures. Rejecting the formalist influences of modernism, Benglis takes painting off the wall and brings color back into sculpture; she captures sensual experience and creates a visceral tie between the viewer and her biomorphic figures. With this unique combination of sensuousness and punk attitude, Benglis has influenced many generations of artists.
Spanning forty years of work, Lynda Benglis is on view at the New Museum from February 9 through July 13, 2011. "Lynda Benglis" is organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in collaboration with Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Le Consortium, Dijon; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; and New Museum, New York.
The New York presentation of the exhibition is supplemented by a selection of specifically chosen works such as Contraband (1969), Bengliss largest and most significant pour sculpture at almost forty feet in length, on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Most significantly, the New Museum exhibition also includes Phantom (1971), a polyurethane installation consisting of five monumental sculptures that glow in the dark. Realized over forty years ago and unseen since its original presentation at Kansas State University, Phantom has been known during intervening years exclusively via photographic documentation. Included in the presentation at the Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Phantom has come to be considered the apex of the artists early accomplishments. It is an event of art historical importance that Phantom is on display at the New Museum for the first time ever in New York City.
In addition to Bengliss extraordinary poured latex pieces from the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition includes early bronze casts, wax reliefs, and videos, revealing the creative universe of an artist who has radically reinvented the language of contemporary sculpture. Works from her Torsos and Knots series of the 1970s are presented in close dialogue with such irreverent installations as Primary Structures (Paulas Props) (1975). Bengliss recent work in polyurethane and signature pleated-metal sculptures of the 1980s and 90s are also on view in the exhibition, as will Bengliss rarely seen photographic work. The exhibition also explores the artists landmark media interventions, such as the infamous 1974 Artforum advertisement featuring a nude Benglis holding a double-headed dildo, a commentary on the machismo that dominated the New York sculpture milieu at that time.
Most recently, Benglis has experimented with plastics, cast glass, paper, and gold leaf. Continuing to use the body and landscape as primary references, Bengliss latest sculptures reveal a striking sense of immediacy and physicality even as they seem to defy gravity.