Artist: Lynda Benglis

Wright celebrates the work of pioneering artist Lynda Benglis. Known for her poured latex and foam works, her bodily sculptures capture materials in motion. A renegade artist active for over fifty years, Benglis continues to produce and exhibit provocative works that are always ahead of their time.
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I think pleasure is very important in life. Art deals in pleasure.

Lynda Benglis

6 Things to Know About Lynda Benglis

Benglis hated canvas, stating “Canvas had too much of a history”.

She told Dan Flavin to ditch the boxes in his early light sculptures.

A young Jessica Lange jumped on one of her foam sculptures and broke it in half.

She was known to destroy works if they were not respected by the audience.

Benglis worked as a secretary for Paula Cooper, but never learned to type.

Benglis paid for her infamous 1974 Artforum ad herself. It cost $2,436.

Lynda Benglis, Untitled ad for Artforum 13, no. 3 (November 1974)
See NSFW version here.

Auction Results Lynda Benglis

The Pioneering Video Art of Lynda Benglis

Benglis began using video art in the 1970s to explore themes of identity and sexuality. Using various methods to shoot and manipulate the film, Benglis layered time, perspective and subject matter to create a referential dialogue between the artist and the viewer. Often performance-based, her video work is undoubtedly connected to her sculptural practice in both subject-matter and physicality. 

A still from Collage, 1973

Benglis' video catalog has been digitized and is available in its entirety at the Video Data Bank.

My work is an expression of space. What is the experience of moving? Is it pictorial? Is it an object? Is it a feeling? It all comes from my body.

Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis b. 1941

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1941, Lynda Benglis received her BFA from Newcomb College in New Orleans. After a brief stint teaching third grade in Jefferson Parrish, she moved to New York City in 1964 and studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. In the late 1960s, she began to experiment with poured latex and polyurethane; the resulting works resembled paintings but like sculpture, they occupied the physical space—pooling across gallery floors and oozing from the walls. These ‘pours’ marked her entry into the New York art world, and provided a much needed foil to the male dominated painting scene.

Benglis continued to use materials as an expression of the body in her later works, dripping molten wax, metal and foam to create tactile, ‘soft sculpture’ that challenged notions of femininity and the prevailing Minimalist trends. In the 1970s, she began using video in her work, producing provocative films that acted as an extension of her bodily, three-dimensional practice. In 1974, Benglis created a controversial advertisement for Artforum, further solidifying her as boundary-pushing, unapologetic, feminist icon (with a sense of humor). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she continued to peruse different sculptural forms—from crimped metal to clay—that captured the power and physicality of her sculptural practice. Today, Benglis maintains studios in Santa Fe, Ahmedabad in India, Kastellorizio in Greece and New York City. Her work can be found in numerous permanent collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.