Lynda Benglis‘ work of poured latex takes painting to an extreme. Despite employing a medium, that is not itself paint, Benglis nonetheless draws attention to paint’s essential, primary properties: color and liquidity. To make Contraband (1969), the artist created, mixtures of powdered pigment and latex in 5-gallon cans that she then poured and let run on the floor with minimal intervention.
The resulting form directly occupies the viewer’s space and, in doing so, rejects the notion that painting needs an armature. The work’s title suggests the potential controversy of defying this convention, while also referencing the Contraband Bayou that runs through the artist’s hometown.
Benglis purposefully allowed her material to flow uninterrupted, subject to physical laws and gravity, as an exploration of what she described, as “the visualization of matter.” Further inspired by images from NASA’s late 1960s space explorations, Contraband reflects what the artist understood as a new tension between material physicality and “otherworldly viewing.”
Photographed in the Whitney Museum, New York City