Lynda Benglis

Born in 1941 In Lake Charles
Lives and works in New York

InquiryLynda Benglis

Barely graduated her BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from de Newcomb College, Lynda Benglis moved to New York in 1964, where she developed a reactionary art that fought against the strict laws of modernisms. In 1965, she created her first Wax Paintings, totem-shaped reliefs made out of beeswax. Fusing matter, form, and content, she became involved in post-minimalism, with her creative process patently manifest in the work itself. Her Fallen Paintings series are a nod to Jackson Pollock, debates on the death of painting, and fall under the umbrella of lyrical or eccentric abstraction. In 1969, her in situ art, too colourful and illusionistic, was excluded from the Whitney Museum’s Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials exhibition. Her Expansions, made out of polyurethane foam, were presented in three solo exhibitions in 1970, and the following year she designed a series of six major installations: the cantilevered, ephemeral, and occasionally phosphorescent Wings, which the artist described as “frozen gestures.” In 1972, she began her Knots mural sculpture series, contorting poor materials – cotton, plaster, wire mesh – to which she added acrylic paint and glitter (Sparkle Knots), or “metallized” (by coating them in zinc, aluminium, or copper).

Benglis was a pioneering filmmaker. Her films as Mumble (1972, co-directed with Robert Morris), Now (1973), and Female Sensibility (1973), which showcase and lampoon political gender issues, power imbalances, the director/performer relationship, and sexual prejudice. She subverted macho representation techniques used in the media in order to control her image in Sexual Mockeries (1972-1976), a series of photographs engineered for use as invitation cards and advertisements. This work was carried over to Secrets (1974-1975), a series of Polaroid collages, and culminated in a double-page spread in Artforum magazine, in which she posed nude with a dildo, causing a controversy that extended far beyond the American art world.

Caroline Hancock, from the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices  © 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque

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