It was the 1970s when Lynda Benglis caught the attention of the art world by photographing herself nude, holding a large latex phallus for an advertisement in Artforum magazine that challenged the male dominance of the New York art scene and pop culture and the mechanisms of modern art.
The groundbreaking and multi-award-winning Greek-American artist, recognized as one of the leading figures of postwar art, was decorated Friday by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with the title of honorary doctor of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts of the School of Fine Arts.
The child of third-generation migrants hailing from the southeastern Aegean island of Kastelorizo, Benglis was born in 1941 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She started her career as an artist in New York in the 1960s. Influenced by the avant-garde movement, she gained international recognition with works using materials (such as foam and latex) that blurred the boundaries between sculpture and painting.
“Sarcastic about dominant male role models and confrontational, she stood out for the artist’s research she did into the importance of the process, the core of which is movement,” says Aristotle University professor Haris Savvidis. “This is something she captures tacitly, redefines as a perpetual process and renders a point of reference and an intellectual asset.”
A globetrotter who spends her time between New York, Santa Fe in California, Ahmedabad in India and Kastelorizo, Benglis “carries the cultural mix that shaped her brilliant humanism,” says Savvidis.
Benglis traveled to Thessaloniki to receive her title in a special ceremony held at the Aristotle’s old school of Philosophy.