Lynda Benglis, installation with (left) D'Arrest, 2009, 47 1/4 x 45 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches, tinted polyurethane, and (right) Swineburne Egg I, 2009, 41 x 28 x 15 inches, tinted polyurethane
Lynda Benglis is showing a potent new group of objects at Cheim & Read through January 2, 2010. The show consists of two types of configuration, the gestural figure and the contained orb. The figural works are large open craggy black fragments in cast bronze, each of which has a unique relation to the figure in motion. Of course there is no literal reference, but the objects read as quick sketches of fleeting gestures, rendered in bronze and hanging on the wall. The other works are made of tinted polyurethane, and all but one is in the form of an oval or sphere with undulating surfaces. For me, the most engaging pieces were a glowing translucent orange orb and an equally alive pink egg shape that hang on adjacent walls in the back room. Both of these pieces glow with an inner light, and possess a mysterious weightless materiality that seems like a new sensation for Benglis. Both the orbs and the figural works continue Benglis' exploration of a nebulous area between painting and sculpture, where the human body and human consciousness merge with the distinct physical properties of materials and processes. It is curious that in every press release or article, we still read about Benglis' 1974 Artforum ad as a sort of defining moment -- which as her career goes I suppose it was. But Lynda Benglis has for the past 35 years, been consistently making some of the most powerfully sensuous objects out there -- at once decorative and raw, delicate and muscular, etherial and utterly physical.