Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
October 26–December 16, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, October 26, 6–8pm
In conversation with Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of MOCA
At Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Saturday, October 28, 4pm
Blum & Poe is pleased to present an exhibition by acclaimed artist Lynda Benglis. This marks her first solo presentation on the West Coast since the 2011 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and offers a broad overview of her output and ethos across the last three decades.
Lynda Benglis’ legendary practice began in 1960s New York City, her commitment to merging content and form, subverting the paradigms of Minimalism and Modernism, established her formidable role in contemporary art history as a leader in the Post Minimalism movement. Her iconic works have been coined “frozen gestures”—referencing the body and the landscape, sexual and gender politics—realized in poured latex, wax, polyurethane, ceramics, bronze, paper, video, glass, neon, and more.
Spanning two levels of exhibition space and including the outdoor gardens, here Benglis presents works from a sculptural practice that engenders hybrid compositions, embracing the subjective touch of the artist's hand and the inextricable link between process, material, and form. Each room features a distinct body of work, showcasing the artist’s multifarious range—including glazed ceramics; examples from her bronze fountain series; large-scale biomorphic aluminum sculptures; a constellation of recent paper wall works; and the eleven-foot phosphorescent cast polyurethane HILLS AND CLOUDS (2014).
About the monumental work HILLS AND CLOUDS, which was first installed in the fields at Storm King Art Center, New York in 2014 and glows after dark, Benglis has said: “I wanted to imply something that appears to rise instead of being connected entirely to the earth.” The fine tendrils of stainless steel reference date palms and the moss-covered limbs and leaves of live oak trees of her native Louisiana; the work as a whole an exercise in considering her interest in water, buoyancy, and womb-like floating.
Regarding the glittering handmade paper on chicken-wire armature works that hover on the gallery walls, writer and critic Nancy Princenthal compared their skin-like exterior layers to shattered piñatas or animal hides, as well as to the kites that the artist’s father made by hand. These works were made in Benglis’ Santa Fe, New Mexico studio; the bone or sand tones of the surfaces reflect the Southwestern landscape of their origin. A related work—the lofty fourteen-foot aluminum sculpture THE FALL CAUGHT (2016)—was made by applying spray foam rather than strips of handmade paper on this same chicken-wire armature framework.
Benglis began her exploration of the organic substance of clay in the early 1990s, a medium often rejected and considered subordinate by her male counterparts of the era. On view in the upstairs gallery, these ceramic works represent her endeavor to accomplish a more tangible encounter with her material. The bulbous bronze fountains in the outdoor garden were named after the remarkably upbeat titles given to specific nuclear explosions, and resemble the mushroom clouds of a post-detonation sky.
Ever the investigator of perception and expression, the chapters of Benglis’ oeuvre continually mine new mediums and critical territories. She says: “I always … question how I can push [materials] further … how far can I go with the illusion of the material? … It’s a matter of creating an image that moves.”
On the occasion of the exhibition, Blum & Poe is honored to host Lynda Benglis & Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in conversation on Saturday, October 28, at 4:00pm.
Lynda Benglis is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1975) and two National Endowment for the Arts grants (1979, 1990) among other commendations. Her work is represented in numerous public collections including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Modern, London, UK; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.