Reviews

Lynda Benglis at Storm King Art Center

New Windsor, New York

Lynda Benglis, Hills and Clouds, 2014, cast phosphorescent polyurethane and stainless steel, 11' x 19' x 19'. JERRY L. THOMPSON/©LYNDA BENGLIS, LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CHEIM & READ, NEW YORK

Lynda Benglis, Hills and Clouds, 2014, cast phosphorescent polyurethane and stainless steel, 11' x 19' x 19'.

JERRY L. THOMPSON/©LYNDA BENGLIS, LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CHEIM & READ, NEW YORK

In a most fortunate marriage of art and setting, Lynda Benglis’s eccentric collection of outdoor fountains and sculptures resembling prehistoric crustaceans, stacked vessels, and glowing clouds pop with intensity against the backdrop of Storm King’s verdant rolling hills. Benglis has played with solidifying liquid forms in space since the late 1960s, when she first poured pigmented latex directly onto a gallery floor. In recent years she has animated her sculptures, derived as they are from fluid sources, with the actual play of water flowing over them.

“Lynda Benglis: Water Sources” features 14 outdoor works, mostly fountains, including a 16-foot cantilevered bronze wave, titled Crescendo, completed earlier this year. It was reworked from Benglis’s first water work, Wave of the World, made for the 1984 World’s Fair. She constructed it by pouring polyurethane over a suspended armature of chicken wire covered in plastic, using a sculpting technique that she’d pioneered in the early 1970s. She cast the hardened amorphous flow of polyurethane in bronze and then, recently, amplified the original with another pouring of polyurethane, mimicking the way sea creatures attach to existing forms.

Benglis’s grandstanding Pink Ladies (2014) and Pink Lady (for Asha), 2013, three towers of nesting cups overflowing with water and cast in translucent hot-pink polyurethane “drawn” from a canister in swirls to resemble the texture of coral, suggest the Three Graces, dazzling in their eruption of color and implied sway.

Even absent the performative element of water, Hills and Clouds (2014) creates heightened drama when the rolling expanse of white polyurethane, infused with phosphorescence, begins to glow at dusk and levitate like an atomic explosion as the stainless-steel support appears to drop away. In these works, and in smaller pieces in the galleries, Benglis proves herself continually inventive at conjuring movement.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 78.

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