Come Together: Surviving Sandy

Lynda Benglis

Jacks #3, D’Arrest, Figure 5, Figure 6

by Noah Dillon

Lynda Benglis, clockwise: "Figure 5," 2009. Aluminum, 89 x 61 x 27". "Jacks #3," 1998-1999. Cast aluminum, 39 x 34 x 37". "D'Arrest," 2009.

Lynda Benglis, clockwise: “Figure 5,” 2009. Aluminum, 89 x 61 x 27″. “Jacks #3,” 1998-1999. Cast aluminum, 39 x 34 x 37″. “D’Arrest,” 2009. Tinted polyurethane, 47 1/4 x 45 3/4 x 22 3/4″. Courtesy of the artist and Cheim & Read. Photo by Brian Buckley.

Lynda Benglis’s work is supremely erotic. Her infamous 1974 advertisements for Paula Cooper are still shocking. I found them in reproduction when I was a teenager and they were one of my first significant revelations about both art and sex. I’ve felt some fear about the possibility that the photographs in my mind might swallow up the image of the painter and sculptor, and those of her work, too. But her extruded and gushing sculptures and her dumped latex paintings carry their own erotics and are equally as exciting. In the industrial building near Brooklyn’s western shore that housed Surviving Sandy, her small teepee of cast-aluminum spikes, called Jacks #3 (1998 – 99), was built of spiny phalluses modeled after, what… ? Some species of Cylindropuntia cactus? D’Arrest, Figure 5 and Figure 6 (each from 2009), sustain the erotic pitch. Their ropey surfaces roil with crawling, snake-like textures. As I look at the former, a convex dome of fluorescent polyurethane, and the two latter undulating fields of wormy cast metal, I imagine my squirming still-adolescent eros. She’s 40 years my senior, but in her work as much as her self-portraits, I am perpetually turned up and turned on.