In December 1969 Benglis began spilling vibrantly colored pigmented liquid latex onto the floor of her loft, where she then let the material dry. Blatt and the related works, which Benglis has described as her “poured” or “fallen” paintings, were created in part as a response to the so-called action paintings of Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock, made two decades before. In his works, Pollock flung, dripped, and poured paint onto canvases he had laid on the floor of his studio. Whereas Pollock’s paintings were eventually stretched and hung in a traditional manner on gallery walls, Benglis’s rubbery puddles remain horizontal, displaying traits of both painting and sculpture. The works are full of accidental bubbles and blobs, which the artist welcomed out of respect for the material’s natural behavior. “I realized that the idea of directing matter logically was absurd,” she has said. “Matter can and will take its own form.”
Through bold explorations of painting, sculpture, and video, Benglis has tested the boundaries of these art forms throughout her career. Her investigations into the nature of materials have focused not only on latex but also on wax, clay, glass, bronze, lead, gold foil, and even water.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)