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The Armory Show

The Armory Show

Lévy Gorvy is pleased to participate in The Armory Show’s Focus section with a solo presentation of Senga Nengudi, in collaboration with Thomas Erben Gallery. Each year Focus presents the vision of one curator, with emphasis on today’s most meaningful and relevant practices. For the 2017 edition, What Is To Be Done?, Jarrett Gregory (Associate Curator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art) highlights twelve artists who tirelessly and critically engage social and political issues through diverse formal, material, and conceptual strategies.

Since the 1970s, Senga Nengudi has made powerful sculptures, photographs, and performances that engage bodily forms and actions, often in concert with found materials. Early in her career, Nengudi collaborated with a politically active group of artists in Los Angeles who were concerned with social justice and racial equality. In line with the feminist zeitgeist and a related desire to assert the political character of private spheres, Nengudi turned her practice toward the domestic after the birth of her son in 1974. Her signature R.S.V.P. sculptures (two of which are on view at Armory) utilize common objects associated with femininity—namely, used women’s nylon stockings—and push them beyond immediate recognition while retaining their affective charge. Filling the nylons with sand and stretching, nailing, and/or tying them, Nengudi does not efface their identifiability. When encountering these abstract works of assemblage, one never quite forgets that they were made to hold a woman’s legs.

As she was beginning the R.S.V.P. series, Nengudi melded performance, sculpture, and documentation. Nengudi’s loose group of collaborators (called “Studio Z,” and including David Hammons and Maren Hassenger) occasionally met to engage in spontaneous performative actions. At times they used Nengudi’s sculptures as props for performance; documentation of such events precipitated Nengudi’s black and while silver gelatin prints (three of which are on view at Armory). In these photographs an obscured body pulls, wears, and otherwise encounters the forms of Nengudi’s sculptures—which are drawn taut to mimic a walking figure, draped ceremonially around a body, or pulled over the head as a mask. In each case, the sculpture is activated by its relation to the performing body. In another work featured in the Armory presentation, Eggactly (1996), a work on paper is sheathed in a plastic dry cleaning bag. The bag, usually a vessel for sterilized garments, in this case functions conceptually as a womb. The work puts forth a playful derivative of the R.S.V.P. sculptures (the dry cleaning bag operating as a container for clothes, as the nylons are a kind of container for bodies) while expanding the formal range of Nengudi’s evocative practice.

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Selected Works

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  • Senga Nengudi
    Eggactly
    1996
    Dry cleaner's plastic bag and spray paint on paper
    45 x 25 inches (114.3 x 63.5 cm)

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  • Senga Nengudi
    R.S.V.P. Reverie "Scribe"
    2014
    Nylon mesh, sand, and found metals
    91 x 54 x 67 inches (231.14 x 137.16 x 170.18 cm)

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  • Senga Nengudi
    Masking It
    1978-79
    Three silver gelatin prints
    Triptych:
    40 x 33 inches (101.6 x 83.8 cm)
    40 x 27 inches (101.6 x 68.6 cm)
    40 x 27 inches (101.6 x 68.6 cm)

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Selected Press

Aesthetica | 10 to See: The Armory Show

February 19, 2018

The Armory Show’s Focus category investigates the relationship between technology and the body. For …

Artsy | The 20 Best Booths at The Armory Show

March 2, 2017

This sparse but powerful presentation convenes both the historic and recent works of radical performance …

Art News | Visions for Pantyhose and Sand: Senga Nengudi’s Booth at the Armory Show

March 2, 2017

Senga Nengudi, who started her career in the fertile African-American art scene of 1960s and ’70s Los …

ARTE | Castellani | What Not to Miss at the Art Show at the Armory

March 4, 2016

The Art Show, organized by the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) at the Park Avenue Armory, has …

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