I never know what to think about Lynda Benglis. While her poured metal blobs render me breathless, her more colorful work leaves me somewhat indifferent. And then there's that scandalous Artforum ad
. You type in her name on google, and that's what pops up... image upon image of the young, dildo-wielding Benglis. Sure, I get that she was making a statement about feminism and gender in art, particularly at that time (1974), but I'd much rather celebrate her for her more minimal object-based work. Despite the fact that most of her work is conceptually charged with gender and politics, I'm most attracted to it for its formal qualities.
I was first turned on to Lynda Benglis in an introductory foundry (metal pouring/casting) class at the College of Charleston. I was experimenting with loose blob-like forms cast in plaster (poured into condoms, which I suppose is rather ironic) which I eventually planned to cast in metal. My professor suggested I look at Benglis, as well as Louise Bourgeois to see how they dealt with the material in a similar aesthetic. What excites me about Benglis is her choice of materials and how process-oriented all her work is.
Laura Hopton of The New York Times
says, "She adopted the vast scale and industrial materials favored by Minimalists like Donald Judd and Carl Andre, but let her colorful latex pouring allude to bodily gestures, fluids and topographies, and harden into a kind of skin."
YES PLEASE! It is in this way that I am interested in using similar types of man-made materials to create a sort of tactile, bodily, flesh-like aesthetic a la minimalist means.
As I mentioned, the more colorful stuff doesn't excite me as much... it reminds me too much of what Ben Godward (whom I met at Franconia
this summer) is doing, thus I associate it with something different than perhaps is intended. Obviously, she did it first, but still... it kind of ruins it for me.
I also can't help but think of Leslie Wayne (discussed in earlier post)... but I think I like Wayne's better.
Anyway, I will continue praise Benglis for her use of materials and for her non-traditional approaches of handling them and will without a doubt continue drooling over her poured metal sculptures...