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Lynda Benglis, Artist. But What’s All The Fuss About?

July 25, 2009


Art or Ad or What? It Caused a Lot of Fuss

                                                                                                                                                          Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC

The top portion of the “Benglis ad,” a color photograph of Lynda Benglis that appeared in Artforum magazine in 1974.


It all began with a woman with a phallus. She was Lynda Benglis, a 32-year-old rising star in the New York art firmament of the early 1970s, Post-Minimal division. The instrument in question was a large, cast-latex double-headed dildo that Ms. Benglis held defiantly between her thighs in a now infamous color photograph. Visible from the knees up, she is nude except for a pair of cat’s-eye rhinestone sunglasses and a diamond stud earring, her body oiled, her cropped hair stiffly moussed.

And “it”? It was the historic dust-up that ensued when this photograph appeared, in 1974, in Artforum, the leading art magazine of the time. Ms. Benglis called the image a “centerfold” and considered it a work of art; others called it an ad, since Paula Cooper, Ms. Benglis’s dealer at the time, paid for it; still others said it was pornography and unsuitable for an art magazine.

But there it was in the advertising section in the front of the magazine, many pages ahead of an article on Ms. Benglis’s work by Robert Pincus-Witten, the art critic who coined the term Post-Minimalism. She had originally wanted the photograph to run as part of the article, but the editor, John Coplans, refused.

Read more at the New York Times, Art and Design section: Art or Ad or What? It Caused a Lot of Fuss

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 18, 2011 8:04 pm

    Just stumbled across your lively blog, reviewing the work of Lynda Benglis, who is featured in today’s NYTimes.

    I wonder if she ever incorporated food images in her work, as did Wolfgang Laib, Oppenheim, David Smith (Hudson View, 1952), Damien Hirst and others.

    See my blog:


    Bill Moore

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