The 2017 edition of the annual Frieze Art Fair on New York’s Randall’s Island Park was a huge disappointment compared to previous years, or even to the Context Art Fair at the pier just one day earlier. The weather was the suck and most of the art was complete garbage. That said, I did get to see a handful of artworks that moved me. One of those is this large, egg shaped and wall-mounted cast polyurethane sculpture, To Be Titled (2017) by legendary artist Lynda Benglis.
Since the 1960s, Lynda Benglis has been celebrated for the free, ecstatic forms she has poured, thrown and molded in ceramic, latex, polyurethane and bronze. In her new work, she turns to handmade paper, which she wraps around a chicken wire armature, often painting the sand-toned surface in bright, metallic colors offset by strokes of deep, coal-based black. At other times she leaves the paper virtually bare.
These works reflect the environment in which they were made, the “sere and windblown” landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as Nancy Princenthal writes in her essay on the exhibit. “It is possible to see the bleached bones of the land—its mesas and arroyos; its scatterings of shed snakeskins and animal skeletons—in the new sculptures’ combination of strength and delicacy.”
Simultaneously playful and visceral, the new works enter into a lively dialogue with Benglis’s previous explorations of materials and form, but with a raw immediacy inherent to the moist strips of paper she uses as their skin. Stretched, crimped and torn into richly organic shapes, the paper becomes both the sculpture’s shell and a repository of the artist’s touch. “The flexibility of the paper is marvelous; it’s just very loving,” she tells the filmmaker Burrill Crohn in Benglis Skin Deep, a video interview on the making of this body of work.
The sculptures are light and open, with slits and apertures revealing their wire supports. “I’m drawing with air, and wire, and paper,” Benglis remarks in the interview. Princenthal compares the paper skins to shattered piñatas and animal hides, as well as to the kites that the artist’s father made by hand (Benglis attends the kite festival held yearly at Ahmedabad, India, where she maintains a residence).
Lynda Benglis With a Fan at the Exhibit’s Opening Reception in September
As a counterweight to the paper sculptures, Benglis will also exhibit The Fall Caught, a new large-scale aluminum work made by applying spray foam instead of strips of handmade paper on the chicken wire armature, as well as a new series of spiraling, hand-built black ceramics called Elephant Necklace. Benglis has said of this work, “Elephants necklaces are artifacts that I imagine in the long and short of the extrusions of life. The expulsion from the garden with the umbilical cord attached are perhaps the fragments left of the family of mammoths trunks. Having left only parts of their trunks in our imagination, I long to find out more about them through a united collaboration with Saxe Patterson, my exploration team, and others who may decide to question their existence in this hemisphere.”
The sexual politics at the heart of Benglis’s career is intrinsic to this work. The cylindrical shape of many of her new sculptures can bring to mind phalluses and vaginas (“considered as tubes, one becomes the other”), and yet, as Princenthal observes, “Of all the sensations her work evokes, pure delight is among the keenest.”
Lynda Benglis: New Work will be on Exhibit Through October 22nd, 2016 at Cheim & Read, Located at 547 West 25th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Modern Art 1970 – 1974 is a cast-in-two-parts Bronze and Aluminum modular sculpture by American Sculptor and Visual Artist, Lynda Benglis. The work (created between 1973 and 1974) includes four individual sculptures that are identical in form while maintaining an organic feel. To me they look like molten lead, tongues or platypus bills. Modern Art 1970 – 1974 can be viewed at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art in Painting and Sculpture II, Gallery 23, 4th Floor.
Roxy Paine, Incident/Resurrection, 2013 (This Image Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery. All Other Photos By Gail)
Paul Kasmin Gallery, in collaboration with Rail Curatorial Projects, is currently hosting the exhibit Bloodflames Revisited, curated by Phong Bui. For this exhibit, in which bright red is a predominant thematic color, a red wooden catwalk has been constructed inside the gallery for visitors to walk on, and the floor has been covered with straw. Very interesting!
Bloodflames Revisited includes works by Worley Gig favorites like Lynda Benglis, Will Ryman, Roxy Paine and Cindy Sherman plus John Bock, Lee Bul, Cameron Gainer, Candida Höfer, Bill Jensen, Michael Joo, Deborah Kass, Alex Katz, Benjamin Keating, Glenn Ligon, Chris Martin, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Donald Moffett, G.T. Pellizzi, Joanna Pousette-Dart, Dorothea Rockburne, Do Ho Suh, Superflex, Tunga, Not Vital and Joe Zucker.
“We were all interested in building a field of vision in which the relationship between the works of art and the spectators is intergrated with greater amplification,” explains Bui.
Rose I By Will Ryman
In this exhibit, Bui and the participant artists pay homage to the seminal March 1947 Bloodflames exhibition at Hugo Gallery, which Alexander Iolas directed before opening his eponymous gallery. Organized by Nicolas Calas and designed by Frederick Kiesler, Bloodflames presented works by Arshile Gorky, Matta, Isamu Noguchi and Jean-Claude Reynal among others.
Kiesler’s design called for an unconventional exhibition construction, wherein artworks were projected and tilted at various angles from the gallery walls, to allow uncommon perspectives of view. His bold architectural interventions dissolved the barrier between viewer and artwork. By recontextualizing this groundbreaking exhibition, Bloodflames Revisited evokes the inventive spirit and unified spatial experience of the original exhibition.
Daniel Joseph Martinez, Redemption of the Flesh: It’s just a little headache, it’s just a little bruise; The politics of the future as urgent as the blue sky, 2008 (Computer-controlled animatronic cloned sculptural installation, fiber-glass and animal hair over aluminum, and synthetic “blood”).
The imposing Daniel Joseph Martinez piece above takes over the entire rear wall of the front gallery. I am sure it looks quite different at this juncture than it does in this pic from the opening reception.
Here are few of our favorite pieces from the show.
Michael Joo, Intuited Composition
Do-Ho Suh, Specimen Series: Stove
Look, it’s Alice Cooper!
Bloodflames Revisted will be on Exhibit Through August 15th, 2014 at at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 293 Tenth Avenue at 27th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
You Invest in the Divinity of The Masterpiece By Barbara Kruger (All Photos By Gail)
Contemporary Art Fans: here’s fun show that you won’t want to miss, and it’s only up for two more weeks, so act fast! Curator/Dealer Vito Schnabel (son of Artist and Film Director Julian Schnabel) and the Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF), an anonymous art collective focused on providing free art education through Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU), are currently hosting The Last Brucennial: a group show featuring the works of over 600 Known and Unknown Artists across a wide variety of mediums.
Gallery View from Washington Street Entrance
The extremely diverse and highly engaging show is located in a massive new retail space just across from the future site of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which premiered its Biennial group exhibit on the same night as The Last Brucennial’s opening reception. The Last Brucennial — as the name hints at — will wrap up a six-year legacy of Brucennial exhibits, after which the BHQF can focus its energy and resources toward the activities of BHQFU and its 700 enrolled students.
Founded in 2008 in direct opposition to other high-profile biennials that seek to advance the commercialization of art, the Brucennial is not a curated group show, but a celebration of and catalyst for an ever-widening community of artists. This year’s call for artists, I was told by a contributing artist in the show, was conducted solely by word of mouth. This exhibit is also noteworthy in that it features the works of female artists, exclusively. It’s fun to see the works of both widely known artists such as Barbara Kruger, Lynda Benglis and Tracey Emin alongside the paintings and sculptures by artists for whom this exhibit represents their first public showing.
Here are a few of our favorite pieces from the show, along with random commentary:
This horn-shaped installation you see above is the first piece to your left upon entering the space. From within, it broadcasts a drastically slowed down recording of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” which was so slow it made the tempo of a dirge seem more like a jig. The recording is loud enough to be heard in adjacent galleries.
This is what it looked like inside. You can see the speaker emerging from a pile of dirt.
I call this one “Assemblage Sculpture with Heart, Lion Head and Hair Extensions.”
Trust Yourself Pink Neon Sculpture by Tracey Emin.
This Photo of a Church Altar with Umbrella and Beach Balls reminded me somewhat of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Altar Installations.
Off to the right in the above photo, you will see what I call the True Detective Installation, which looks like some kind of medieval Stock devise with attached antlers in and around which a fully nude live model is entwined. When I saw this piece I could not help but think of the way in which Dora Lange’s lifeless body was found in the premier episode of that popular HBO crime drama, though I do not know if that was an influence on the artist.
This is one of my favorites: a colorful Sculpture Of Found Objects that includes Mixing Bowls, a Waste Basket, a Globe and an Umbrella. If it lit up like a lamp, my head would explode.
This looks like a container of crocheted Cheese Puffs. The artist’s name, which is written directly on the wall just below the frame, looks like Breanne Tremmez. I wasn’t too diligent about noting the names of all of these artists, so if you see your work in this post please feel free to identify yourself in the comments.
“Cheeseburger Santa Puzzle.”
Marsh Lines series Coffee Cup and Matching Painting By Gwyneth Leech. You can see more of Gwyneth’s work at This Link.
Big Stick and Bomb Pop Sculptures By Bee Spiderman!
I love the banality of this piece by Adriana Farmiga.
People were letting their unsupervised children run around like maniacs. Fortunately, it did not affect this work, comprised of a pile of plaster rubble.
I wonder what story this one is trying to tell us. I like looking at it. (Art By Gigi Chen)
“Feminist Performance Art.”
The Last Brucennial will be on Exhibit Through April 4th, 2014 at 837 Washington (Corner of Washington St. and 13th St.) in the Meat Packing District. Exhibit Hours are Wednesday – Sunday 12 Noon to 6:00 PM.
Ground breaking sculptor/artist Lynda Benglis is always doing something interesting. Her newest work is an engaging series of abstract ceramics made in New Mexico, where she lives part time. In this exhibit at Cheim and Read, Benglis’s seemingly random shaped, clay-based sculptures retain the earthy, elemental, primal nature of clay, and highlight the material’s unique susceptibility to the artist’s touch. The variety of bold textures on each sculpture is extremely visually pleasing, and each one is unique and different.
Benglis does not use a potter’s wheel, but hand-builds her works with tubes (you can see this technique especially in several pieces pictured in this review, which resemble lengths of tire) and slabs of clay, pinching, stacking, squeezing, pulling and smoothing them into complex sculptural compositions.
I also couldn’t help but think of the 2012John Chamberlain exhibit, Choices, at the Guggenheim, in which the artist worked with hunks of compressed metal from junked cars. If you are looking to buy junk car indianapolis and make it for profit, visit upullandpay.com to learn more.
This one is my favorite.
Sometimes wave-like and lyrical, sometimes squat and spherical, Benglis’s ceramics explore various manifestations, excavations and manipulations of form.
Lynda Benglis collapses the boundaries between interior and exterior space, using both hollowed out and compacted elements which collide and fuse together reinforcing the sexual undercurrents of her muscular, polymorphic shapes. I really loved this exhibit and recommend you add a stop at Cheim and Read to your next Art Crawl.
New Ceramic Works by Lynda Benglis will be on Exhibit Through February 15th, 2014 at Cheim & Read, located at 547 West 25th Street, NYC, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Damien Dot: Portrait of Damien Hirst by John Grande (All Photos By Gail)
Wedged between viewing rad new art by both Lynda Benglis and Herb Alpert, we popped into Jim Kempner on 23rd and 10th during last Thursday’s Art Crawl to check out a very fun exhibit. Taking Appropriation Art to a hilarious new level, painter John Grande presents his new series of portraits depicting pop culture icons superimposed with the distinctive design of Damien Hirst’s famous Spot Paintings. That Hirst himself is honored in the show is pure brilliance.
Some of the celebrities featured in the series include Whitney Houston, Truman Capote, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland and Andy Warhol. The portraits are borrowed from Richard Avedon and other renowned photographers. He must have had a good time dealing with all of the licensing!
Jim Kempner is the rare gallery that always has a few things going on in addition to their featured exhibit, so drop by next time you are in the neighborhood.
John Grande’s Oh You Pretty Things Will be on Exhibit through February 23rd, 2014 at Jim Kempner Fine Art, Located at 501 West 23rd Street, on the Northwest corner of 23rd Street and Tenth Avenue in the Chelsea Gallery District, NYC.