Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA) Opens Lynda Benglis

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), presents Lynda Benglis, a traveling exhibition of the work of American artist Lynda Benglis from the past forty years, on view at MOCA at Grand Avenue July 31–October 10, 2011. The first full-scale survey of Benglis’s oeuvre since Dual Natures at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1991 (Benglis’s last major retrospective), this traveling exhibition highlights works from the 1960s through 2009, including three video works and a selection of ephemera.

MOCA’s presentation will incorporate a number of sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection, exhibited together for the first time in the context of a solo retrospective.

Lynda Benglis, Phantom, 1971, polyurethane foam with phosphorescent pigments, 5 elements, approximately 8 1⁄2 x 35 x 8 feet, (overall installation dimensions variable), four elements: Kansas Sate University, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, 1971.5-1971.8., courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, one element: Collection of Elizabeth Goetz, courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York, image courtesy of New Museum, New York, photo by Benoit Pailley, © Lynda Benglis. DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2009

“Lynda’s close relationship with California began in 1971 and continues through numerous solo and group exhibitions in commercial venues and museums including MOCA,” said MOCA Senior Curator Alma Ruiz. “Thanks to the generosity of local supporters we have seven extraordinary works by Lynda in our collection. It is thus fitting that her retrospective should travel to Los Angeles this summer and we are proud to present it at MOCA.“
Benglis’s work continues to challenge artistic norms and exceed easy definition. Initially developed in the 1960s, her singular practice did not fit clearly within the sharp aesthetics of minimalism, or in the overtly political gestures of feminist art.

Unlike minimalist sculpture, Benglis’s works evoke the organic and the temporary—her sculptures are defined by rivers of vibrant colors and erotic melting forms. Rejecting the formalist influences of modernism, Benglis removes painting from the wall and integrates color into sculpture, capturing sensual experience and creating a visceral tie between the viewer and her biomorphic figures. With this unique combination of sensuousness and punk attitude, Benglis has influenced many generations of artists.
In addition to Benglis’s extraordinary poured latex pieces from the 1960s and 1970s, drawing on themes from her childhood and her Greek roots, the exhibition includes early bronze casts, wax reliefs, and videos, revealing the creative universe of an artist who has radically reinvented the language of contemporary sculpture. Works from her Torsos and Knots series of the 1970s will be presented in close dialogue with such irreverent installations as Primary Structures (Paula’s Props) (1975).

Benglis’s recent work in polyurethane and her signature pleated-metal sculptures of the 1980s and ’90s will also be on view, as well as her rarely seen photographic work. The exhibition explores the artist’s landmark media interventions, such as the infamous 1974 Artforum advertisement featuring a nude Benglis holding a double- headed dildo, a commentary on the machismo that dominated the New York sculpture milieu at that time. Most recently, Benglis has experimented with plastics, cast glass, paper, and gold leaf. Continuing to use the body and landscape as primary references, Benglis’s latest sculptures reveal a striking sense of immediacy and physicality even as they seem to defy gravity.

MOCA’s presentation is organized by Senior Curator Alma Ruiz and will comprise a number of sculptures from the museum’s permanent collection, including For Bob (1971), a partial and promised gift from Trustee Emeritus Blake Byrne; Lagniappe: Bayou Babe (1977), purchased with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee, and Pour Daum (1979), a gift of Councilman Joel Wachs. Works from additional West Coast collections, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and Billie Milam, and Linda and Jerry Janger will add depth to this extensive showcase of Benglis’s oeuvre.

Lynda Benglis was originally organized by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in collaboration with Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Le Consortium, Dijon; The Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; and the New Museum, New York.
The presentation of the exhibition in Los Angeles is generously supported by the Sydney Irmas Exhibition Endowment. Additional support is provided by Bank of America and Cheim & Read.

For 24-hour information on current exhibitions, education programs, and special events, call 213/626-6222 or access MOCA online at

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