One has shaped material, the other has released it


Beyond the graphic-design friendliness of their common initials and the fact that they exhibit with the same gallery, bringing together Louise Bourgeois and Lynda Benglis is a curatorial natural. They are both inveterate explorers of sculpture’s soggy underbelly, doyennes of dark sexuality and the nebulous space between the personal and the universal.

But the coupling is not without edge: These are women of markedly different generations whose attitudes towards the body and the sculptural object come to bear in relation to their work. Ms. Bourgeois, the older artist by thirty years, is steeped in Surrealism and the ethnographic interests of her husband, the art historian Robert Goldwater, while Ms. Benglis is of the generation of conceptual artists who emerged in the wake of minimal art and Pop Art. They are, variously, self-consciously out of time and of their time. Still, this a show where you often have to check the wall label because of the degree of overlap in material quality and form vocabulary of these two artists. It is a coupling, in other words, underwritten by formalism, despite the fact that the art is often anti-formalist in intention and effect.

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