Lynda Benglis at Blum & Poe
By: Andy Campbell
Resembling a melting hillock, comically propped up with an array of bars cast in stainless steel, HILLS AND CLOUDS, 2014, is a wonder to behold, an enormous sculpture in which Lynda Benglis’s depth of material knowledge is matched by a sheer ambition of scale. Milky green clouds made of phosphorescent polyurethane float above the gray metallic land and hedonistically frost its ridges. Though initially exhibited outside, on the grounds of Storm King Art Center, the sculpture has lost none of its grandeur and has, thankfully, not been over-cleaned in the interim. Little white rings of calcium speckle the glow-in-the-dark puffs, and slight discolorations mar the otherwise “stainless” steel. It makes a queer sort of sense that a work intended to resemble nature is now also partially its index.
Beside HILLS AND CLOUDS, the other works in the first-floor galleries are wall-mounted sculptures, which are viscerally compelling. Luckily, Benglis facilitates a close interaction, allowing a viewer to stand underneath works such as THE FALL CAUGHT, 2016, or to peer around the curled edges of FIGURE 6, 2009. Three vibrantly colored, egg-shaped objects, named after Greek nymphs and minor goddesses, lead into a room of paper and chicken-wire constructions, some heavily gilded with glitter. Amorphous, irresolute, and husk-like in appearance, these pieces embody a uniquely tacky glamour. Upstairs, a selection of ceramics from 2013 joins two made twenty years prior. It’s a clever conceit, revealing that for this artist, new work is always in conversation with the old, and that her practice has a shape all its own.