Senga Nengudi 

“To shape shift paradigms, I find different ways to use materials others consider useless or insignificant, providing proof that the disregarded and disenfranchised may also have the resilience and reformative ability to find their poetic selves.”

Senga Nengudi

Senga Nengudi emerged in the 1970s as a conceptual sculptor at the forefront of the Black American avant-garde in Los Angeles. Working at the intersection of sculpture, installation, and performance, she reimagines Post-Minimalism in terms of the Black female body, experimenting with discarded materials, ritual, and collaboration (most profoundly, her five-decade dialogue with the artist Maren Hassinger). With influences ranging from free jazz and spoken word to Yoruba mythology, Japanese theater, and Brazilian Constructivism, her work is characterized by elasticity, movement, and flux. Her iconic series of performative installations R.S.V.P. (1976–) comprise pantyhose filled with sand, knotted, and pinned to the walls or ceiling; for Water Compositions (1970), viewers were invited to prod volumes of colored liquid sealed in vinyl.

Born in Chicago in 1943, Nengudi lives and works in Colorado Springs. While earning degrees in art and dance from California State University, Los Angeles (BA, 1966; MA, 1971), she worked at the energized spaces of the Watts Towers Arts Center and the Pasadena Art Museum and spent a formative year at Waseda University, Tokyo. In the 1970s, alongside David Hammons, she belonged to the loosely organized collective Studio Z. Her earliest exhibitions were held at the legendary gallery Just Above Midtown (JAM) in New York. Recently, the survey Senga Nengudi: Topologies was organized by Lenbachhaus, Munich (2019) and traveled to Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2020), Denver Art Museum (2020), and Philadelphia Museum of Art (2021). Her work has been the subject of many solo exhibitions at museums around the world, and has featured in such significant group exhibitions as Soul of a Nation (2017); We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 (2017); Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980 (2011); and WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007). Nengudi’s work resides in such collections as the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hammer Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and in New York, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art.


    • Senga Nengudi
    • Dominique Lévy, New York
      September 10 - October 24, 2015
    • Senga Nengudi (2015) was the first exhibition presented with the artist at Dominique Lévy. Begum Yasar organized the selection of recent sculptures and 1970s performance stills. The exhibition featured recent nylon mesh pantyhose and sand sculptures that respond directly to Nengudi’s performative, biomorphic, and political series Répondez s’il vous plaît (RSVP) (1975–77). Engaging in a dialogue with postminimalism and second-wave feminism, the stretched, twisted, and knotted fabric of the RSVP works and more recent Reverie sculptures recall contorted flesh. Nengudi’s c...

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Selected Artworks

    • Senga Nengudi
    • A.C.Q. III, 2016–17
    • Refrigerator parts and nylon pantyhose
    • 132 × 96 inches (335.3 × 243.8 cm)
    • Senga Nengudi
    • R.S.V.P., 2004
    • Nylon pantyhose and sand
    • 71⅝ × 59¹³⁄₁₆ × 24 inches (182 × 152 × 61 cm)
    • Senga Nengudi
    • Performance Piece, 1978
    • Silver gelatin prints
    • 40 × 116⅛ inches (101.6 × 295 cm)
    • Edition of 5, with 1 AP
    • Senga Nengudi
    • Ceremony for Freeway Fets, 1978
    • Chromogenic prints
    • Edition of 5, with 1 AP

Selected Press