Lynda Benglis
New Work November 19, 2009 – January 2, 2010

Cheim & Read is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Lynda Benglis, including large-scale bronze wall-hangings cast from urethane foam over wire, as well as free-standing non-objective sculptural forms. A refinement of Benglis's post-minimalist aesthetic, this body of work represents a synthesis of the artist's critical sensibility and her interest in the physicality of sculptural materials.

Born in Louisiana, Benglis moved to New York in the late 1960s, just after minimalism had reached its zenith. She and other artists of the period challenged one of the essential premises of the male-dominated minimalist movement: that human perception opens onto to rational truths. In an infamous Artforum ad from 1974, Benglis poses nude with sunglasses on and a dildo between her legs to make a raucous joke of the ostensible self-sufficient minimalist artist and object alike.

For all its cool refinement, Benglis's most recent work is no less committed to the critique of art's institutionalization within the gallery, museum and academy. The pieces shown at Cheim & Read – not so much sculpture as sculptural – challenge through their materials and forms the basic categories that artists, patrons, and critics rely on to understand and evaluate art. For instance, Benglis's monumental wall hangings are neither painting nor sculpture, but a hybrid of the two, maintaining a frontal orientation while projecting outwards into space. More importantly, though, these hybrid forms display attributes that have less to do with the frozen quality of painting and sculpture than with the memory of the body in motion. The remembered body in question coincides with the artist's own physical engagement with the wire and foam, from which the bronze casts are taken. In the finished works, a contradiction manifests between the hard permanence of the metal alloy and the fleetingness of the bodily gestures. One can no more easily decide as to whether these pieces are light or heavy, soft or hard, fugitive or stable, than one can label them definitively painting or sculpture.
Likewise, the tall and narrow stainless steel "totems", which have been cast from wax models, memorialize with surprising intimacy the touch of the artist's fingers, seducing the viewer into an imaginative identification with the artist herself. The massive orange urethane hemispheres similarly record the processes of their making: in this case, the accumulation of material substance. As much as these works stand-in for process, they, too, like the bronze wall hangings, court the specter of absence, for the moment of their creation has already passed.

Accordingly, then, by bringing the processes of artistic production into the interior of the aesthetic end-product, Benglis creates sculptural forms that insist upon the fact of their own contingency, as they foreground their own inevitable failure to exist apart from the specific, embodied actions of the artist herself, whose artistic pursuits must always be limited by historical and cultural horizons of possibility.

Benglis succeeds in delivering a perspicuous critique of art in the age of the culture industry by refusing to submit her work to the institutional imperatives of isolation, categorization, and quantification. And, even more significantly, she has done so on purely aesthetic grounds, in works that are frankly beautiful, and by means of nothing more than formal relationships and the play of materials. It is almost as though all the wit and defiance of the Artforum ad from a quarter of a century ago have been distilled and purified into the very substance of the aesthetic object itself, which, despite itself, in Benglis's hands, negates the possibility of its own self-containment. In this light, 1974 seems very far away indeed.

Lynda Benglis divides her time between New York and Santa Fe. Her numerous awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts grants. She is currently the subject of a traveling retrospective exhibition, organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Lynda Benglis: Defining Post-Minimalism, 1968–1990
Frieze Masters, Regent’s Park, London
October 5 – 8, 2017
The New York Times 7/29/16
The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men
Lynda Benglis & Adam Fuss: Knots and Entrails
The Art Show / Park Avenue Armory
March 7 – 11, 2012
The Women in Our Life: A Fifteen Year Anniversary Exhibition
June 30 – September 17, 2011
Abstractions by Gallery Artists
September 24 – October 3, 2009
The Female Gaze
Women Look At Women
June 25 – September 19, 2009
Brooklyn Rail 3/08
Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Louise Fishman
I Am As You Will Be
The Skeleton in Art
September 20 – November 3, 2007
New York Times 7/13/07
Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois
Circa 70: Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois
June 21 – August 31, 2007
Monique Prieto: New Paintings / Lynda Benglis: THE GRACES
September 10 – October 15, 2005
Lynda Benglis
A Sculpture Survey 1969 - 2004
February 26 – April 3, 2004
Bettina Rheims / Lynda Benglis
Bettina Rheims: Chambre Close, 1991Lynda Benglis: Quartered Meteor, 1969
October 15 – November 16, 2002
Liquid Properties
Artists include: Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Richmond Burton, Adam Fuss, Mary Heilmann, David Hines, Gary Hume, Dona Nelson, Jack Pierson, Pat Steir, Juan
July 6 – August 3, 2001
Artists Include: Lynda Benglis, Richmond Burton, St. Clair Cemin, Beatriz Milhazes, Chris Ofili, Jeff Perrone, Philip Taaffe, and Juan Uslé
June 14 – September 1, 2000
Lynda Benglis / Wols
Lynda Benglis: New WorkWols (1913 - 1951): Photographs of the 1930s
October 19 – November 13, 1999
Lynda Benglis
Recent Sculpture and a screening of "Female Sensibility" from 1973
September 12 – October 10, 1998
Small Paintings
HAND PAINTED PICTURES by Ingo Meller, Louise Fishman, Juan Uslé, Richmond Burton, Joan Mitchell, Mary Heilmann, Bill Jensen, Jack Pierson, Dona Nelson, Eva Hes
July 1 – 31, 1998
Group Show: Benglis, Fuss, Salle, Spitzer
June 5 – July 31, 1997
Lynda Benglis at Museo Internacional del Barroco in Puebla, Mexico

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