Knotted, Torn, Scattered
Sculpture after Abstract Expressionism
Drawn from the Guggenheim collection, the artists on view in “Knotted, Torn, Scattered”—Lynda Benglis, Maren Hassinger, Robert Morris, Senga Nengudi, Richard Serra, and Tony Smith—respond to the legacy of post-war abstract expressionist painting through sculpture.
Like the spirited dashes of abstract expressionism painting, Morris’s layered felt sculptures give way to gravity, but traces of the hand are largely elided. This is in stark contrast to Benglis’s Juliet (1974) nearby, which is knotted, paint-streaked, and belabored; its title calls to mind the tortured lead of Shakespeare. The artists also work together in unexpected ways: Nengudi employs Hassenger to activate her nylon pantyhose installations. Serra’s Belts (1966-7)[pictured] is perhaps the most explicit link to Abstract Expressionism: he describes the work as an attempt to draw a three-dimensional Jackson Pollock, and its neon element draws a bright line in space. Pollock, the inarguable lodestar of the exhibition, is not present in the gallery—but, this being the Guggenheim, the monumental Mural (1943) hangs right next door.
Richard Serra, Belts, 1966–67. Vulcanized rubber and neon, approximately 6 feet 8 inches x 16 feet 6 inches x 1 foot 8 inches (203.2 x 502.9 x 50.8 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, 91.3863. © 2020 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.