Lynda Benglis

Biography of Lynda Benglis

Notorious for her 1974 advertisement in Artforum where she posed naked sporting nothing but a pair of white-rimmed sunglasses and a double dildo, Lynda Benglis exploded onto the international art scene with her controversial gender-bending display. A masterful swipe both at pin-up girl aesthetics and the male-dominated art scene of the time, Benglis' self-promotional move got her work noticed in a world ruled by macho male artists, the molded shape of the dildo corresponding to her abstract yet sexually suggestive poured latex sculptures. The artist later cast the sex toy in bronze as an edition of five entitled Smile—one for each Artforum editor that wrote in to complain about her advertisement.


Whilst Lynda Benglis' free flowing biomorphic forms certainly have erotic connotations, her true contribution to the feminist cause is to be found in her video work. Female Sensibility, 1973 sees Benglis kissing and licking the face of the artist Marilyn Lenkowsky to traditional country western music, juxtaposing girl-on-girl action with hypermasculine pop culture. Focusing on the body and performativity in her work, Benglis explores and undercuts conventional views on gendered sexuality.


Lynda Benglis' collaborations with seminal Minimalist artist Robert Morris are equally notable, Morris also submitting an advertisement for the same 1974 issue of Artforum which featured him in a revealing outfit straight out of the gay leather bars of the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, this image caused less of a stir than Benglis' explicit nude shot, further illustrating how open sexuality and displays of fetishism was chastised in women while being blindly accepted with male artists.


Born in 1941, Lynda Benglis was honored in 2009 with a major international retrospective that travelled to the The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Le Consortium, Dijon, the New Museum, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, amongst others. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Benglis's work can also be found in many public collections, notably the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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