Billy Al Bengston: Transcendental Bengston-Nation (2014)
Softcover, Color, 63 pages, 7.5 x 9.5", edition of 500
Published on the occasion of the exhibition transcendental bengston-tation at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, May 1st - June 28th, 2014
"Bengston’s work was eventually characterized as “Pop Art” by some critics, in part because of its notable impact upon Pop luminaries including Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Unlike his Pop counterparts, however, Bengston’s art has never been attached to the specific meanings of symbols and images. Rather, it references an aesthetic balance found in nature. Bengston eschews distinction between subject and object; his intention is to capture the viewers’ gaze. The same sense of fearless audacity that permeated Bengston’s experiences as a surfer, racer, and bon vivant, remain at play in his work, all of which emerges from meditative focus. Whether walking the edge of a surfboard cresting a 15-foot wave or weaving through a herd of racers on curving dirt tracks riding a brakeless motorcycle, Bengston’s early accomplishments as a renowned surfer and professional motorcycle racer are legendary. Referenced in both film and fiction, from Moondoggie in Frederick Kohner’s classic 1959 movie Gidget to a “gearhead who makes paintings” in Rachel Kushner’s 2013 best selling novel The Flamethrowers, Bengston’s notable athletic feats were not, by any means, ends in and of themselves. Negating fear and engaging a heightened sense of awareness within, these actions were the vehicles by which Bengston arrived at a state of intense focus."
-From the press release for transcendental bengston-tation at Franklin Parrasch Gallery