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Artful Commentary, Oozing From the Walls


The New Museum has become a busy place this year, and it is not yet even March. In January it opened a popular tribute to the market-hardy paintings of George Condo. Now it is offering a startlingly excellent resurrection of the prescient Post-Minimalist renegade Lynda Benglis and her gaudy, multidexterous and often gender-bending segues among Process, Performance and Body Art.

Ms. Benglis is something of a mythic character, as many female artists of the 1960s and early ’70s are by now. Working in pigmented latex, beeswax or polyurethane foam and even glitter, she made daring, often ephemeral or fragile works that have plenty of historical weight but little market presence.

Permanence seems to have been the last thing on her mind, at least in the early years. Many pieces were temporary installations that did not survive; others had the kind of willful fragility that makes collectors nervous. One of her most famous works is nothing but a brilliantly orchestrated magazine ad: a performance-slash-photograph that ran in the November 1974 issue of Artforum for which she posed, taut and well-oiled, wearing only a pair of rhinestone-studded cat-eye sunglasses and wielding a dildo.

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