Lynda Benglis

Born 1941.
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Lynda Benglis Biography

Painter and sculptor Lynda Benglis was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in
1941. Her father owned a business that sold building materials, leading at least in part to
her initial interest in both structural and surface materials—an inclination that influenced
and figured greatly in her later artistic practice. She went on to study at Newcomb
College in New Orleans, graduating with her BFA in 1964, before relocating to New
York City. Once in New York, she began studying under Reuben Tam at the Brooklyn
Museum of Art School.

Though she had studied and practiced mainly traditional, canvas-based painting
up until this point, in the late 1960s she began experimenting with sculpture. She first
showed these works at Bykert Gallery in 1968, and subsequently had her first solo show
at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1970. It was during this period that she also began creating
poured latex and foam works, where she would cascade the materials straight onto the
floor, leading to some comparison with Jackson Pollock. As Benglis described it, she
“wasn’t breaking away from painting but trying to redefine what it was.” These works
have come to be some of the most iconic of her oeuvre—seconded perhaps only to what
is now referenced simply as her “Artforum Ad.”

In the November 1974 issue of Arform, Benglis bought a full-page advertisement
where she posed fully nude (save for a small pair of sunglasses), and stood erotically with
a double-ended dildo. The piece was in part a response to an earlier ad run by the artist
Robert Morris, who had done a similar full-page feature except fully dressed in BDSM
attire, and also a more general response to male hegemony in the art world. Though her
ad generated a great deal of controversy (and is still discussed today), it was a catalyst for
a larger conversation concerning sexism and feminism.

New York has continued to be her primary home and place of work through
today, but travel has played an important role in Benglis’ life. She has consistently
travelled to Greece, where she has family, as well as visited and spent time in New
Mexico, where she still maintains a satellite studio. In 1979, she undertook an artist
residency in Ahmedabad, India, where she ultimately met her life partner Anand

Benglis’ work and oeuvre received a modicum of recognition throughout her
career, but it was not until the late aughts that her oeuvre truly began to receive a high
degree of critical and institutional recognition. She has now had numerous retrospectives
and surveys as well as solo shows, and her work is among the collections of the Art
Institute of Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art,
Washington, DC; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.

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Artist Image: 2011 Nancy R. Schiff