Senga Nengudi: The Body as Source

I am working with nylon mesh because it relates to the elasticity of the human body. From tender tight beginnings to sagging end . . . The body can only stand so much push and pull before it gives way, never to resume its original shape . . . My works are abstracted reflections of used bodies—visual images that serve my aesthetic decisions as well as my ideas.

– Senga Nengudi, 1977

In 1977, Senga Nengudi first exhibited her R.S.V.P. works at Pearl C. Wood Gallery in Los Angeles and Just Above Midtown Gallery in New York. R.S.V.P., the conventional abbreviation for “répondez s’il vous plaît,” or “please respond,” was the artist’s call for the audience to relate to and engage with the work. Composed of used nylons stretched between nails or pins and burdened with the weight of sand or found objects, the works resemble the body reduced to parts. With each element visible and its function in everyday life known, the sculptures invite a sensory response that amplifies the visual perception. The “psyche can stretch, stretch, stretch and most of the time come back into shape,” she observed.

Senga Nengudi: Topologies is organized by the Lenbachhaus Munich, in cooperation with the DAM. Concept and idea by Stephanie Weber, Lenbachhaus. Funding is provided by the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS4.