An Alphabet of Forms
Over the past five decades, Lynda Benglis has fine-tuned a method of art-making that relies on spontaneous gesture. As a young artist getting her bearings in the 1960s, Abstract Expressionism, with its emphasis on the intuitive application of paint to canvas, loomed large. This concept, as a way to guide one’s process, informed Benglis’s novel approach to sculpture.
For her signature “pour” series, which she began in the late 1960s, Benglis, taking liquid latex or molten metal, quite literally pours each piece into existence. In observing the tendrils of material spill and contort together before hardening, Benglis must have been intrigued. By the early 1970s, knots had become her preferred subject matter, spurred by her growing interest in their formal properties and manifold cultural associations.
On display in Benglis's inaugural solo show at Pace, "An Alphabet of Forms," are six recent bronze sculptures that embody the latest manifestations of her exploration of knots as a motif. Each twist and turn reflects that of a clay model that Benglis crafted by hand; evidence of her touch remains visible in the monumental works, albeit exponentially magnified, as the full-scale realizations each span several feet in height or length.
Benglis’s new knot sculptures resonate with her impulse to examine and capture fluctuation. Here, we again see the theme of physical matter changing states, as shapes originally fashioned out of clay are transposed to bronze—and, simultaneously, the path of a knotted string, from one end to the other, becomes solid and permanent.
Lynda Benglis, Power Tower, 2019. White tombasil bronze 89 × 64 × 72 inches. © Lynda Benglis, courtesy Pace Gallery.