The Great Hall Exhibitions

There are two Great Hall Exhibitions per year showcasing prominent contemporary artists. Taking place in the fall and spring semesters, the expansive great hall of the Duke House, a historic landmark building, provides an impressive setting for displaying seminal contemporary art in the center of the Institute’s academic home and community.

Fall 2018:
Graphic Objects: Elaine Lustig Cohen’s Sculptural Works

October 19, 2018 through February 24, 2019
Opening October 19
Open to the public daily, 1pm-4pm

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The Institute of Fine Arts will present Graphic Objects: Elaine Lustig Cohen’s Sculptural Works, a solo exhibition featuring works by artist and graphic designer Elaine Lustig Cohen. Opening October 19, 2018 and on view through February 24, 2019, the installation generates a vibrant dialogue with the neoclassical interior of the Duke House, reflecting the artist’s personal and professional engagement with the history of art and design.

Walead Beshty

Image: Elaine Lustig Cohen, Color Box (1981), Courtesy of the Estate of Elaine Lustig Cohen.

The exhibition illuminates Lustig Cohen’s ventures beyond the picture plane, presenting a selection of reliefs and box-like sculptures. While the reliefs rupture the flatness of the artist’s distinctive graphic designs, the boxes transpose them onto freestanding forms. Three colorful panels with hanging reliefs, taken directly from the artists studio, enhance the visual effect of the exhibition.

Less familiar than her graphic designs and public commissions, the sculptural works on view reveal Lustig Cohen’s interdisciplinary approach to art making. These objects transcend the boundaries between fine art and graphic design, form, and function. At the same time, the sculptures encapsulate the artist’s playful mobilization of geometric abstraction on three-dimensional forms.

This exhibition runs in conjunction with Masterpieces and Curiosities: Elaine Lustig Cohen at the Jewish Museum, open until August 11, 2019. The Institute is grateful to curatorial advisors Prem Krishnamurthy and Cole Akers for their collaboration on this project. All works on view have been kindly lent by the Estate of Elaine Lustig Cohen due to the generosity of Tamar Cohen.

Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927–2016) was widely celebrated in her life as a graphic designer, artist, art dealer, and archivist. Her multifaceted accomplishments encompass pioneering design projects that extended the aesthetic vocabulary of European modernism into an American context, including commissions with clients such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Jewish Museum, and architects Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier; to exhibitions as an artist at Bard College, Exit Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Mary Boone Gallery (first solo show by a female artist); to founding the influential Upper East Side bookstore Ex Libris, specialized in avant-garde publications and ephemera. She enjoyed a renewed interest in her practice in later years, including receiving the 2011 AIGA Medal for her life’s work in design, as well as mounting exhibitions at LACMA, Los Angeles (2016); The Glass House, New Canaan (2015), P!, New York (2014), and Stanley Picker Gallery at Kingston University London (2017).

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Valeria Napoleone XX. It was curated by Francesca Ferrari, Kolleen Ku, Emily Shoyer, and Chao Chi Chiu.

Exhibition Archive

Spring 2018:
Jamie Isenstein

May 2, 2018 - September, 2018

The Institute of Fine Arts is pleased to present Universe of Logs, an exhibition of new work by New York based artist Jamie Isenstein. Inspired by her encounter with the decorative logs in the Institute’s Great Hall fireplace, Isenstein’s exhibition highlights the artifice and theatricality of these seldom noticed objects. Isenstein considers how such objects, often found within museums and historic homes, shape our contemporary understanding of truth and knowledge. By borrowing and redisplaying sets of logs from several New York cultural institutions, Isenstein calls attention to their familiar presence and metaphorical meanings.

Walead Beshty

Image: Jamie Isenstein, Universe of Logs (installation view), 2018, Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, NY.

The installation also includes movable mirrors to maximize the natural light within the Great Hall and to spotlight the logs’ intended purpose. In so doing, Isenstein relates these logs to the imagery of torches depicted in the Neoclassical friezes throughout the Great Hall. The mirrors and the displaced and illuminated logs address the notion of light as a symbol of the production of history, truth, and knowledge.

Participating lending institutions to the exhibition include The Morgan Library & Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Morris-Jumel Mansion, Fraunces Tavern Museum, The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, and the Wyckoff House Museum.

Jamie Isenstein (b.1975, Portland, Oregon) holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives and works in New York City. She has had numerous solo exhibitions including presentations at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, St. Augustine, FL (2017); Andrew Kreps, New York, NY (2015); and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2007). She has also participated in group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. Isenstein is represented by Andrew Kreps Gallery.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Valeria Napoleone XX. It was curated by Scott R. Davis, Kendall Follert, Mattos Paschal, and Haley S. Pierce.

Fall 2017:
Judith Hopf

October 19 - Mid-January 2018

The Institute of Fine Arts Great Hall Exhibition Series is pleased to present the work of Berlin-based artist Judith Hopf, on view fall of 2017. The exhibition proudly continues a commitment to presenting work by mid-career female artists at the Institute’s James B. Duke House. Set within the building’s beaux-arts interior, Hopf’s films and sculptures of brick create a rich aesthetic and promote conceptual interaction with the historic venue.

Hopf imbues her work with a sense of humor and irony that finds expression through a variety of media. Her adoption of brick to create sculptures of isolated parts of the human anatomy, as in Brick-Foot (2016), allow for the humble material to assume greater artistic and expressive value. Set within the ornate architectural design of the Duke House, the contradiction of artistic form and utilitarian material is only enhanced.

In conjunction with Hopf’s sculptural work will be the Flying Cinema (2016), which will feature her short film, Some End of Things: Conception of Youth (2011). The film retains Hopf’s unique humor that also hints at a greater sense of irony and sadness fostering a dialogue with the social and political history of film and architecture. During the run of the exhibition, the Institute will offer a series of related programming.

Judith Hopf (b. 1969, Karlsruhe, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. She is currently a professor of fine art at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. Hopf has in recent years had solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Museion, Bolzano, Italy (2016); Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany (2015) and has had film screenings including at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2016); Berlinale, International Film Festival, Berlin (2014); and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2013); among others.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Valeria Napoleone XX and Kaufmann Repetto. It was curated by Scott R. Davis, Kendall Follert, Mattos Paschal, and Haley S. Pierce.

Spring 2017:
Lucy Kim, Rejuvenate and Repeat

April 11 - mid-September 2017

The Institute of Fine Arts at New York University will open its doors to Rejuvenate and Repeat, a newly commissioned project by sculptor and painter, Lucy Kim. Rejuvenate and Repeat is part of an ambitious series of solo shows dedicated to women artists and is hosted in the Great Hall of the Institute’s historic Duke House.  Accompanying Kim’s exhibition will be a series of free public programs with notable thinkers from New York’s art community and beyond.

Kim’s exhibition reflects on the importance of self-preservation at a time of uncertainty. Rejuvenate and Repeat features a monumental, twenty-foot painted sculpture that draws inspiration from the history and space of the Duke House. The massive site-specific work plunges downward through the main stairwell of the Institute’s Great Hall. The sculpture consists of bird and corn motifs in low relief, playing off beaux-arts bas-reliefs of foliage and draped figures in plaster, wood, and wrought iron that decorate and populate the mansion.

Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress and philanthropist who was once considered one of the richest women in America, gave the Duke House to the Institute in 1958. With no heirs, Duke left her fortune to the charitable foundation in her name in order to continue her legacy of supporting the arts, wildlife and environmental conservation, child well-being, and medical research. It is against this backdrop of Duke’s life and legacy that Kim’s work blurs the lines between abstraction and mimesis, painting and sculpture, image and object, and beauty and ugliness. Her process involves casting an object into plastic after creating analogue distortions in the molding process, and finally painting the object. What results is a monumental “image-form” that is at once imposing, tender, handcrafted, composited, imitative, and obscure.

Kim (b. 1978, Seoul, South Korea) received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and her MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2007. She has been a fellow at the Yale Norfolk Summer Program, MacDowell Colony, and the Skowhegan Artist Residency. She is the recipient of the Carol Schlosberg Memorial Prize, the Boston Artadia Award, and the ICA Boston’s James and Audrey Foster Prize. Her work is included in the collection of the Kadist Foundation in Paris, among others. In 2017, she will also have solo exhibitions at Galerie Pact, Paris and at the ICA, Boston.

The exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Valeria Napoleone XX. It was curated by Adam Dunlavy, Connor Hamm, Sarah Mallory, and Blanca Serrano

Public Programming

April 17, 2017 - Legacy of the Natural, a panel discussion

Pivoting around the figure and legacy of Doris Duke, who with her mother Nanaline, presented the Institute of Fine Arts with the James B. Duke House in 1958, artist Lucy Kim, writer and critic Dawn Chan, and writer and science policy expert Bina Venkataraman, will engage in a conversation about the psychological impact of the rapid shifts in technology, including how science developments affect our environment, and how our visual and haptic perception evolves accordingly. Moderated by student co-curator and MA Candidate, Connor Hamm.

About the panelists
Dawn Chan is a journalist and critic who has written for the, the New York Times, Artforum, and Dawn has a background in cognitive science and artificial intelligence, and her current work focuses on the intersections of visual art, culture, and technology.

Lucy Kim is a visual artist and the recipient of the 2017 James and Audrey Foster Prize for which a new body of work is currently on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. She received her MFA in Painting from the Yale School of Art and her BFA in Painting from RISD. Her work has been exhibited at Lisa Cooley, NY, Brooklyn Academy of Music, OyG Projects, NY, and MonChéri, Brussels amongst others. She has an upcoming solo exhibition at Galerie Pact in Paris and she is the Senior Visiting Critic at Brandeis University.

Bina Venkataraman is a writer and a fellow at New America whose work lies at the intersection of science and social & environmental change. She formerly served as senior advisor for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, and she now teaches in MIT's department of science, technology and society. She was previously a science journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe

Fall 2016:
Martha Friedman, Some Hags

October 19, 2016 - February 6, 2017

The Institute of Fine Arts New York University was proud to host Some Hags, an exhibition featuring a new body of work by sculptor Martha Friedman. For this exhibition Friedman orchestrated a site-specific installation that responded to the sixteenth-century Flemish tapestry hanging in the building’s grand staircase.  Her response took the form of three metal and rubber sculptures that allude to the female body in various states of use, and were a reflection of her ongoing exploration of industrial objects, modernity, and the female body. Said Friedman, “The tapestry depicts a scene from The Odyssey where Odysseus uses a sword to threaten the sorceress Circe, who has just used her magic book to turn his men into boars. I'm intrigued by how contemporary this five-hundred-year-old weaving feels in the way it tackles issues of gender and power." The show’s title, Some Hags, refers not only to the three bodies that will occupy the hall, but also critiques the perception of forceful women throughout history.

Walead Beshty

Friedman, Brooklyn-based artist who is also an assistant professor of sculpture at Princeton University, collaborated with the writer Jeff Dolven, and Institute students Sarah Mallory, Blanca Serrano Ortiz de Solórzano, Adam Dunlavy, and Connor Hamm, to produce a series of innovative programs to accompany the exhibition.On November 16th, Susan Marshall & Company will perform the world premiere of their newest dance piece Two Person Operating System, which will activate one of the sculptures featured in the exhibition. This work, which grew out of a collaborative concept developed by Friedman and Marshall, is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.  On December 1, a concert in the Great Hall will feature sound artist C. Spencer Yeh debuting an original sound score in response to electronic music pioneer Milton Babbit’s Homer-influenced composition, Philomel.  The exhibition’s opening will include a panel discussion about the works on display; NYU professor Thomas Crow, the Institute's Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art and Associate Provost for the Arts at New York University, will moderate. The exhibition and associated programming is sponsored by The Barnard Center for Research on Women, Princeton University, and Valeria Napoleone. 

Artist’s Bio

Martha Friedman was born in Detroit, MI and lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2003. She has had solo exhibitions at Wallspace, New York (2012, 2009, 2007); the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI (2010); DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA (2010); Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, IL (2010). Her work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. Select examples include Frieze New York Sculpture Park, curated by Tom Eccles, New York (2013) and Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel (2013). Friedman is Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Princeton University. Friedman has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Henry Museum in 2018.

Public Programming

October 19 - Opening (6:00pm) and panel discussion moderated by Prof. Thomas Crow (7:30pm)
The Institute will host a panel discussion to unfold the ways in which Friedman’s work responds to and dialogues with the Circe tapestry.  The esteemed panelists, Dr. Nancy Worman, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Dr. Jamieson Webster, author and analyst, will each draw from their own area of expertise to contemplate the various renderings of the female figure through history, ranging from classical Greek literature through the Renaissance and ending with contemporary portrayals.

November 16 - Performance by Susan Marshall & Company (6:00pm) followed by a panel discussion (7:00pm)
Susan Marshall & Company will perform the world premiere of the their newest dance piece, Two Person Operating System.  The work activates one of Martha Friedman's sculptures featured in the 2016 Fall Great Hall Exhibition.  The dancers pay careful attention to speed, force, and precision, while navigating dangerously sharp edges in Friedman's creation. The sculpture and dance, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, grew out of a collaborative concept developed by Friedman and choreographer Susan Marshall. After the performance, Friedman and Marshall will hold an open conversation with Dr. Brooke Holmes, Professor of Classics at Princeton University, and Dr. Tina Campt, Professor of Africana and Women's Gender and Studies at Barnard Collage.

Susan Marshall & Company's Two Person Operating System will be performed again on November 19 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Institute.

December 1 - Concert featuring C. Spencer Yeh (6:00pm) followed by a panel discussion (7:00 pm)
Innovative artist and musician C. Spencer Yeh will premiere a new piece of music based on Milton Babbit’s groundbreaking electronic masterpiece, Philomel, and vocalist Liz Pearse will perform Babbit’s original. Both works draw inspiration from the Ovidian story of Philomel and the tapestry she wove, after being raped by King Tereus, to reveal her rapist’s identity. After the performances, Yeh and Pearse will discuss the works with R. Luke Dubois, composer and director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Jeff Dolven, poet and professor of English at Princeton University.

Image: Martha Friedman, Some Hags, 2016.

Spring 2016: Charles Simonds

April 1, 2016 - May 13, 2016

The Institute of Fine Arts continued its ongoing Great Hall Exhibition Series by showcasing sculptor Charles Simonds’s Mental Earth in the Great Hall. The exhibit was organized by Institute of Fine Arts PhD student Julia Pelta Feldman, and was accompanied by a dialogue and day-long symposium featuring the artist

Walead Beshty

A sculptor with roots in New York City’s downtown scene, Simonds first gained renown as an artist in the 1970s for his Dwellings, miniature villages in unfired clay constructed in the streets of SoHo and the Lower East Side and conceived as homes to an imaginary civilization that Simonds called “the Little People.” He created over 200 Dwellings, which usually disappeared days or weeks after their meticulous making. He has also exhibited freestanding sculptures and installations at various institutional spaces, including the Whitney Museum, the Paris and Venice Biennials, Documenta 6, and the Museum of Modern Art. He has been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, and the Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, among other museums. 

"Created in 2003, Mental Earth is a hanging sculpture in which a vibrant arabesque of earthy clay forms – resembling at once landscape, cloud, and man-made structure – floats in the air, detached from the terrestrial and architectural context of Simonds's early work in the streets," said Feldman, who also organized the upcoming all-day symposium on Simonds. "It is the opposite of site-specific in that it is able to create a new site for itself wherever it is exhibited. But despite this dramatic change from the artist's earlier work, Mental Earth represents powerful continuity with his entire oeuvre: it posits land, architecture, and the human body as a unified, living, and growing form."

The IFA is deeply grateful for the generous support of the following donors to the Simonds Great Hall Exhibition and programming: The Agnes Gund Foundation; the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust; Caroline Cummings Rafferty; and the Cummings Rafferty Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

Image: Charles Simonds, Mental Earth.

Fall 2015: Walead Beshty

November 11, 2015 - December 4, 2015

Photos of Walead Beshty artwork

The Institute of Fine Arts showed the work of artist and writer Walead Beshty in the Fall of 2015. The show brought together works on paper and sculptural pieces by the artist.

The exhibition was accompanied by a series of public events.  A public opening reception took place on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. The following evening, Thursday, November 12, Beshty discussed his work and writings during a public conversation with art historian and curator, Johanna Burton. Finally, on Friday, December 4, the Institute hosted a panel discussion featuring art historians and critics in dialogue. The panel took Beshty's latest publication Ethics (Whitechapel Gallery / MIT Press, 2015) as a starting point to discuss the aesthetics of distribution and methodology of art history today. 

Walead Beshty (b. 1976, London, UK) is an artist, writer and Associate Professor in the Graduate Art Department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His work was included in the 56th Biennale di Venezia (2015), the Shanghai Biennial (2012), the Tate Triennial (2009), and Whitney Biennial (2008). Beshty’s work is held in numerous permanent museum collections, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Tate Modern, London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Monographs on his work include, Walead Beshty: Selected Correspondences 2001–2010 (Damiani Editore, 2010), and Walead Beshty: Natural Histories (JRP|Ringier, 2011/2014). Beshty’s writing has appeared in Texte zur Kunst, Afterall Journal, Artforum, Aperture, Art Review, Parkett, Dot Dot Dot, and The Exhibitionist, in addition to several exhibition catalogues and anthologies. Beshty was guest editor of Blind Spot Magazine, No. 46, edited the anthology Ethics, in Whitechapel’s Documents of Contemporary Art series (MIT Press 2015), and his collected writings will be published in the Fall of 2015 by JRP|Ringier. He is represented by Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Petzel, New York; Thomas Dane Gallery, London; Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels; and Capitain Petzel, Berlin. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Walead Beshty's full bio is can be viewed here (PDF).

The exhibition is organized by Rachel Heidenry with assistance from Eloise Maxwell.

Support for this exhibition was graciously provided by an anonymous donor. Institutional support has been generously provided by Petzel Gallery, New York and Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

Image: Walead Beshty, Samsung UN75H6350 75-Inch 120Hz Smart LED TV, 2015.

Spring 2015: Felix Gonzalez-Torres

March 30, 2015 - May 1, 2015

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

An installation of two artworks by Felix Gonzalez-Torres was featured as part of the Great Hall Exhibitions series at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Organized by Katharine J. Wright and Susanna V. Temkin, this installation paired two works encompassing different media and conceptual practices that speak to major themes in the artist's oeuvre. The manifestable candy piece "Untitled (Placebo-Landscape-for Roni)", 1993 and the static photographic work "Untitled" (Natural History), 1990 offer a point of access into overarching strategies that the artist employed throughout the course of his career.

This installation was made possible by the generous support of Eileen and Michael Cohen.

Image: "Untitled" (Natural History), 1990. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. Courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Fall 2014: Marta Chilindron

November 3, 2014 to December 5, 2014

Lynda Benglis

Embracing the instability of perspective and form, New York artist Marta Chilindron (b. 1951, Buenos Aires) creates manipulable sculptures in transparent and colored acrylics.  Adapted from such basic geometric shapes as spheres, cubes, and pyramids, her artworks conceal their identity as complex, kinetic constructions.  Constructed from multiple panels connected by hinges, Chilindron’s sculptures are charged with transformative potential that, when activated by the viewer, cause the works to expand//fold//collapse.

An heir to international constructivism, Chilindron's artworks recall the influence of such artists as Naum Gabo, Lygia Clark, and Donald Judd.  However, to this tradition Chilindron adds her own investigations based on her interest in the dynamism and mutability of life.  Controlled by the viewer yet mediated by their constructed forms, her artworks transform shape, shift from the second to the third dimension, and extend and contract into space.  Magnified by the chromatic interplay caused by the effects of light, these changes underlie the core of her artistic practice.

Providing a dramatic contrast to the ornate interior of the Duke House, seven works by the artist was on view in the lobby and vestibule of the Institute of Fine Arts  for the Fall 2014 Great Hall Exhibition.  Focusing on Chilindron’s engagement with idealized geometric forms, these works, executed between 2006 and 2014, showed the diversity of the artist’s practice, ranging from table-top objects such as the curvilinear Helix (2011) to her large-scale Cube 48 Orange (2014).  This latter work represents Chilindron’s expansion into immersive sculptural environments, and was shown in New York for the first time since its debut in the Encounters exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong, held in spring 2014.

For more information about Marta Chilindron and the exhibition, EXPAND//FOLD//COLLAPSE, please read the exhibition e-catalogue, co-written by PhD candidates Susanna V. Temkin and Katharine J. Wright. The interactive e-catalogue features a curatorial essay, a selected chronology, an exhibition checklist and numerous illustrations of Chilindron’s work.

The works on view for the Fall 2014 Great Hall Exhibition were courtesy of the artist and the gallery, Cecilia de Torres, Ltd.

Image: Marta Chilindron, Mobius, 2013, Acrylic and hinges, Variable dimensions (36 x 80 x 80 in; 91.4 x 203.2 x 203.2), Photograph by Arturo Sanchez, Courtesy of Cecilia de Torres, Ltd.

Spring 2014: Rachel Harrison

Who Gave You This Number?
April 27, 2014 to May 11, 2014

Rachel Harrison

Rachel Harrison lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include CCS Bard/Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson (2009); Portikus, Frankfurt (2009); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover (2013); and S.M.A.K., Ghent (2013). Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam among many others.

The works on view for the spring 2014 Great Hall Exhibition were courtesy of the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York. This exhibition was made possible by the lead support received from Rachel Goodman Wilf and additional support from Linda Nochlin.


Image: Rachel Harrison, Party Line, 2014, Wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, telephone, telephone directory, and string, 82 3/4 x 28 x 24 inches (210.2 x 71.1 x 61 cm). Courtesy of the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York

Fall 2013: Lynda Benglis

September 15, 2013 to October 20, 2013

Lynda BenglisOne of the foundational figures in twentieth-century feminist art, Lynda Benglis has been creating works that explore the ways in which the body, in both its physical and cultural extensions and constraints, interacts with the world around it. Benglis first received international attention in the late 1960s for a series of works in which she poured brightly colored bands of liquid polyurethane foam and pigmented latex directly on the gallery floor. With their unconventional palette and materials and their ambiguous identity between painting and sculpture, these works initiated Benglis’s career-long project of questioning and expanding the boundaries of artistic media, materials, and form. Her works’ radical aesthetic innovation coupled with their overt critique of dominant modes of artistic practice—from modernist painting to minimalist sculpture—suggest alternative ways of seeing and being unburdened from the repressive verities and traditions of the past. This motivating dichotomy of Benglis’s art is perhaps most evident in her consistent engagement with the ostensibly antagonistic processes of creative amalgamation and material degradation, figured through the works’ invocation of melting, dripping, and deformation. This ruin-like aspect of many of Benglis’s works reveals currents of classicism and romanticism running through her oeuvre, albeit deeply informed by feminist critiques of historical continuity and expressive individualism. As such the Institute of Fine Arts provides an ideal intellectual and architectural milieu in which to examine the complex interplay between innovation and tradition that motivates a great deal of Benglis’s art.  On view at the IFA will be four artworks, two of which are seminal “pours” from the late 1960s.

This inaugural Great Hall Exhibition was organized by Professor Robert Slifkin and PhD candidate Jeffrey Uslip.

Image: Lynda Benglis, Night Sherbet A, 1968. Courtesy Cheim and Reid, New York.