Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis

Greek / American
1941 -


Lynda Benglis was born in 1941 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her mother was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister; her father –born in the United States to Greek immigrants– was in the construction business. His family came from Kastellorizo, a beautiful island off the Anatolian coast (the movie Mediterraneo was shot there), where Benglis eventually bought a house. Her Greek grandmother first took her to see the Acropolis when she was eleven and also taught her to crochet a skill that Benglis includes among the arts.

When asked if there exists in her work any formal or emotional relationship to ancient Greek or Byzantine art or to Greek folk art, she listed (in this order): the Caryatids on the Acropolis, “the [Greek] holiday cookies” (kourambiethes), the braided Easter bread, and “the gold and gilded elements of the Greek Orthodox religion.” Elsewhere, speaking of influences on her art, she has said, “So much has to do with things you remember: sensations, smells, and so on.

Benglis studied art at Newcomb College in New Orleans, but in the early 1960s she moved to the East Coast at a time when performance art was at its height. By the end of the decade, she was making paintings profoundly affected by an inherent dramatic sense and by her attraction to Abstract Expressionism, particularly the work of Jackson Pollock. These were her “fallen paintings“, which she made by pouring pigmented latex onto the floor from 10-gallon cans. The emphasis on gesture continued to characterize her work when she turned to sculpture (she referred to it as “frozen gesture“), for, “movement in artwork, particularly Hellenistic sculpture,” was exciting to her. But the physical involvement of any artist with his/her material is always of the greatest importance, and Benglis's images tend to “flow out of her material.” Although it has been argued that the frozen gesture is her icon, it might equally be argued that her icon is the metamorph itself, the product of metamorphosis, since the frozen gesture displays in its very form both the thing that it was and the thing that it is becoming.

Benglis is known for the famous challenge she issued to the art establishment of the early 1970s when she placed an ad in Art forum featuring a photograph of herself in an outrageous pose, dressed only in sunglasses and holding an enormous dildo to her loins. The ad was a mockery of power politics as it affected sexual issues and the art world-a direct response to Robert Morris's own Art forum ad featuring an aggressively macho photograph of himself and while it was problematic for some of the editors of Art forum, it was a feminist statement of substance that earned her instant notoriety.

Art goes beyond taste and style. Art enters into poetry and truth. And as an artist you can use things that are not so elegant, that are repulsive as well as attractive. We can ask “What is the nature of our reaction to this?' I'm questioning by creating a new aesthetic, by rethinking the everyday.

Το βιογραφικό της Lynda Benglis προέρχεται από τον κατάλογο της έκθεσης Modern odysseys: Greek American artists of the 20th century (Selz, Peter, and William R. Valerio. 1999. Queens, N.Y.: Queens Museum of Art.)