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#5WOMENARTISTS Lynda Benglis

March 31, 2024


Since 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) has been asking this question on social media each March during Women's History Month. Using the hashtag #5WomenArtists, the campaign calls attention to the fact that women have not been treated equally in the art world, and today they remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries, and auction houses.

Each year, hundreds of cultural organizations and thousands of individuals take to social media to answer the challenge, sparking a global conversation about gender equity in the arts. This year, MOCA has chosen five women artists to join the conversation and highlight the amazing projects on view in the museum. 


Lynda Benglis headshot from the '70s

Lynda Benglis

“I totally believe that art is an open dialogue and that it is not logical. It does not always make sense.”— Lynda Benglis

Lynda Benglis is a sculptor and visual artist known for work that showcases materials in action. A Louisiana native, Benglis’ began her career at New Comb College where she studied to be an abstract expressionist painter. After moving to New York in 1964, she began pursuing painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. She is known for employing a wide range of materials in her work and blurring the line between painting and sculpture.  

Benglis often explores the behavior of fluid mediums such as molten beeswax and latex. She would use these to create works that resembled painting, but occupied space the same way a sculpture would, calling them “pours.” She is deeply concerned with the physicality of form and how it affects the viewer, using a wide range of materials to render dynamic impressions of mass and surface: soft becomes hard, hard becomes soft and gestures are frozen. She is quoted as saying, “I wasn’t breaking away from painting but trying to redefine what it was.”

Lynda Benglis headshot

Beyond the physical descriptions and methods of her work, she is known for creating pieces centered around her experience as a female artist. Employing a wide range of bright colors and glitter in her pieces, she set herself apart from the male-dominated New York art scene. One example of this is when she advertised her upcoming exhibition in Artforum by using a photo of herself in sunglasses. This ad received mixed reviews but nevertheless brought a great deal of attention to her work.  

Three works by Benglis are currently on display at MOCA Jacksonville as part of the exhibition A Walk on the Wild Side: ‘70s New York in the Norman E. Fisher Collection, which is on view through July 17, 2024. The exhibition is presented in connection to MOCA’s 100th anniversary and features other artists like Andy Warhol, Philip Glass, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Robert Mapplethorpe, and more. 

Installation shot of Lynda Benglis' work in the exhibition "A Walk on the Wild Side" at MOCA Jax

The large sculpture Eat Meat shows the slow build-up of the aluminum layers, representing and commenting on consumerism. 1st Fan Form is a smaller wall-mounted sculpture that uses gold leaf, a unique material for most artists, but commonly found within her work.

The exhibition also features Now, a 12-minute video, where Benglis interacts with a pre-recorded video of herself. The camera’s framing is so tight that it makes it difficult to distinguish between the “real” Benglis and the video version. In the video, she mimics the sounds and motions of the pre-recorded version of herself and repeats the word “now” many times, encouraging the viewer to question the reality and temporality of this artwork, which is a common theme in 1970s art.