THE WORK AND THE ARTIST
Artist: Benglis, Lynda
Title/Date: #9, 1979
Description of the work:
The work is a large-scale, mixed-media original, on handmade paper with a deckled edge. It is constructed of flowing diagonal, organic lines of colored string. Teased and frayed into differing lengths, they are laid in parallel and perpendicular patterns directly into the pulp, and became part of the paper as it dried. Benglis has said that she is on a quest to capture the “frozen gesture.” In that spirit, there is a leaf of tissue paper affixed over a pastel watercolor butterfly in the center of the composition. The biomorphic shape floats in and on in a fanciful illusion on the upper section of the paper over a pink diamond shape.
The process of making paper dates back to China 25-220AD. Benglis has a fascination with it and has worked with handmade paper for years. She continues to incorporate it in her most recent mixed-media work.
Lynda Benglis achieved early and lasting notoriety when she appeared in the November 1974 edition of Artforum magazine wearing nothing but a pair of cat’s eye sunglasses and gripping an enormous dildo. The effect was seismic: two of the magazine’s editors resigned and the two-page ad has since become one of the iconic images of feminist art history.
Benglis was born October 25 1941 in Lake Charles, LA, and she is the eldest of five. After earning a BFA from Newcomb College, she moved to New York City in 1964 and became a leader of Postinimalism along with Richard Serra, Eva Hesse and Bruce Nauman. Like many women artists, Benglis looked for a medium not owned and corrupted by men. Her poured latex, wax and foam work was a feminist counterpoint to the ubiquitous male dominated painting and sculpture art scene of the 1960s. Her early works were an amalgam of feminine organics and confrontations that mixed contemporary imagery with media of sensuality and gender stereotypes. In the 1970s, Benglis radical video work, sexual images and eroticized performances confronted the societal representation of women and were labeled trivial, rootless by many critics. As a result, her work was ignored for years. It has only been in the last decade that Benglis has begun to receive recognition for her significant, innovative contributions to late twentieth and early twenty-first century art. She was the first artist to make sculptures out of paint, eliminating the canvas and creating directly on the floor, using walls and corners to form the shape. Outrageous and provocative, Benglis challenged popular taste and definitions of art.
Lynda Benglis has become known for her biomorphic shapes and forms, and unusual pairings of materials with the subject of sexual politics in the course of her 50 years as an artist. She continues to explore the juxtaposition of mass and surface, texture and gesture through the use of a wide range of mediums.
Lynda’s artistry has earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the NEA, visiting professorships and a 36-page impressive curriculum of awards and collections held by esteemed galleries and museums from Tat Modern to the Whitney and National Gallery of Art. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions all over the world, including 2016 with list of 12 shows in Italy, Mexico, Norway, and New York City. Lynda Benglis currently lives, travels and works in Santa Fe, New York City, Greece and India.
Signed: #9 L Benglis 12/79 recto, lower left graphite.
Date and Dimension: 1979; Image 35” x 27 ¾”; Mat 37” x 30”
Medium: Hand-made paper, Mixed media.
Accession and Acquisition: #1980.11.5 Date: 1980
Provenance and Exhibitions: UNK. There is no documentation, the piece has ever been exhibited.
Framed or Flat: Unframed, free floating on mat.
Current Location: Piece is part of the University Art Gallery’s permanent collections at New Mexico State University.
-Cheim & Read, Lynda Benglis, retrieved from http://www.cheimread.com/artists/lynda-benglis
–Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring – Summer, 1992), p. 54, accessed November 8, 2016, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1358269
-Hickey, Dave and Lebovici, Elisabeth. Lynda Benglis, Les Presses Du Reel 2009 -http://www.art21.org/artists/lynda-benglis, accessed November 10, 2016.
-http://www.theartstory.org/artist-benglis-lynda.htm, accessed November 10, 2016.
– http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/arts/design/25benglis.html, accessed November 10, 2016
Researched by: Carleen Cirillo, November 2016