Ceremonial Forms

The Glass Masks of Lynda Benglis

During her 2010 residency at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, Lynda Benglis began work on a series of mold-blown glass masks. The elongated, amphora-like forms were an homage to the masks worn by the ngil, a secret brotherhood within the Fang communities of Gabon responsible for overseeing justice. Benglis was inspired by the soft, geometric features and sought to create a body of work that emphasized the beauty she found in them. Based on three original masks, the glass forms show subtle features such as wire “tattoos” or textural imprints from the source material and as a nod to her home state, each is titled for a small town in Louisiana. Works from the series appeared in exhibitions across the country including the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents, 8 March - 21 August 2011 and Lynda Benglis Glass Masks, Texas Gallery, Houston, 16 June - 30 July 2011.

Lynda Benglis

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1941, Lynda Benglis received her BFA from Newcomb College in New Orleans. After a brief stint teaching third grade in Jefferson Parrish, she moved to New York City in 1964 and studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. In the late 1960s, she began to experiment with poured latex and polyurethane; the resulting works resembled paintings but like sculpture, they occupied the physical space—pooling across gallery floors and oozing from the walls. These ‘pours’ marked her entry into the New York art world, and provided a much needed foil to the male dominated painting scene.

Benglis continued to use materials as an expression of the body in her later works, dripping molten wax, metal and foam to create tactile, ‘soft sculpture’ that challenged notions of femininity and the prevailing Minimalist trends. In the 1970s, she began using video in her work, producing provocative films that acted as an extension of her bodily, three-dimensional practice. In 1974, Benglis created a controversial advertisement for Artforum, further solidifying her as boundary-pushing, unapologetic, feminist icon (with a sense of humor). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she continued to peruse different sculptural forms—from crimped metal to clay—that captured the power and physicality of her sculptural practice. Today, Benglis maintains studios in Santa Fe, Ahmedabad in India, Kastellorizio in Greece and New York City. Her work can be found in numerous permanent collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Auction Results Lynda Benglis