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Lynda Benglis (American, b.1941)

Sculptures

Birth Place: Lake Charles (Calcasieu parish, Louisiana, United States)

Biography:

Branded both a genius and a firebrand by the art community, Lynda Benglis is no stranger to controversy -- or artistic recognition. Since the late 1960s, Benglis hasn’t been afraid to stretch the boundaries of what art should tackle, drawing ire and admiration from all corners of the art community with her dazzling sculptures. Born in the American south, Benglis moved to New York in 1969 where her work put her in contact with Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt, Eva Hesse and other giants of the 1960s art community. 

Never one to back down from a challenge, Benglis often critiqued the male-dominated art community by using her own work as commentary. Her work Fallen Painting (1968) was a direct response to Jackson Pollock’s work, while her phallic sculptures often caused controversy when they were exhibited. This came to a head in 1974, when an iconic ad in ArtForum for an upcoming gallery exhibition created such a schism between the editors of the magazine that led to two prominent critics leaving in a huff. These are the hallmarks of a classic Benglis, challenging, controversial, and undeniably brilliant -- traits that make Benglis a singular force to this day in the art world. 

What type of art does Lynda Benglis create?

Lynda Benglis is best known for her wax paintings and poured latex sculptures. Her sensual, process-oriented pieces frequently skirt genre-defining labels while also courting controversy with the art establishment. Her phallic images and sculptures are designed to provoke dialogue around feminist art, which they frequently do. 

How often do Lynda Benglis pieces come up for auction?

Lynda Bergman pieces frequently come up for auction. While her success has come largely outside of the art establishment (she withdrew her pieces from a Whitney Exhibition in 1969 and created one of the most controversial ArtForum covers of all time in 1974), her work is generally appreciated by the public and critics alike. There is no shortage of Benglis pieces at auction.

How much is a Lynda Benglis sculpture worth?

A Lynda Benglis sculpture frequently sells for six figures. In the last ten years, her sales prices have been vastly higher than pre-sale high estimates. Blue Pair 1972 (1972) went for almost twenty times more than its highest estimate ($175,000 vs $9,000). Even lesser-known works frequently sell for tens of thousands of dollars, making a Benglis piece a valuable (and historical) addition to most collections.

Which Lynda Benglis work is the most valuable? 

The most valuable Lynda Benglis piece is Kearny Street Bows and Fans (1985) which sold for $245,000 in 2014. It’s a large, five-piece wall-mounted sculpture. Her most valuable single piece is Circinus (1985) a bronze and wire mesh sculpture that sold for $211,500 in 2017. Based on a constellation, Circinus is a beautiful example of the mixture of dynamic form and interesting metalwork, a common aesthetic choice in much of Benglis’ work. 

What are the most famous paintings by Lynda Benglis? 

The aforementioned Circinus (1985) and Kearny Street Bows and Fans (1985) are two of Benglis' best-known works. Benglis rose to prominence from the Jackson Pollock inspired critique piece, Fallen Painting (1968). Benglis is perhaps best known for her 1974 ad in ArtForum which led to multiple resignations by the editorial staff after it was published. 


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