Lynda Benglis, 2018
Text by Judith Tannenbaum
95 pages, Softcover
Published by Locks Art Publications
ISBN: 978-0-9982036-8-3

"During the eighties, the metal reliefs grew in both complexity and scale. Starting as relatively simple bunched and folded forms, they became significantly larger over the years, extending out in several directions on the wall, often from a central knot or bow. Despite the rigidity and sheer weight of the material, the metal sculptures miraculously seem to retain the lightness and flexibility of the original mesh understructure, appearing to float like billowing cloth. A key work from this period, Kearny Street Bows and Fans (1985), is composed of five separate forms that seem to fly across the wall, defying gravity.

Titles from this series, such as Hydra (1982) and Megisti II (1984), have Greek references including ancient or mythological figures, celestial constellations, and place names.4 Considering Benglis’s Greek family background (on her father’s side), one cannot help but associate these dramatic pleated forms with the draped garments of classical statues or patterns on ancient columns. In fact, Benglis made several trips to Greece with her paternal grandmother, who was born on the island of Kastellorizo (also known as Megisti) and took the artist-to-be to see the Acropolis in Athens for the first time when she was only eleven. The six larger-than-life size Caryatids on the Erechtheion must have impressed the young Benglis, with their dignified postures and drapery carved so it simultaneously covers the female figures and still reveals the shapes of their bodies. Whereas the Greek sculptor carved away or subtracted material from a block of stone, Benglis extends sculptural traditions as she works with pliable materials over an armature to build up form. But like the ancients, Benglis’s pleated or draped surfaces become synonymous with their forms."

- from Lynda Benglis: Moving Forward, Circling Back by Judith Tannenbaum

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