Sadie Benning was born in 1973 in Madison, Wisconsin. She earned an M.F.A. from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in 2015. Benning was awarded the Los Angeles Film Critics Circle Award in 1992, the Grande Videokunst Prize in 1994, the National Alliance for Media Arts & Culture Merit Award in 2000, the Wexner Center Residency Award in Media Arts in 2003, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2005. She has also received grants from the Andrea Frank Foundation (1999), the National Endowment of the Arts (1993), and the Rockefeller Foundation (1993). Benning co-founded the feminist post-punk band Le Tigre in 1998. In 1993, Benning, at the age of 19, was the youngest artist ever invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial; she was invited again in 2000. Benning has also shown at the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008), White Columns Annual (2007), Tate Modern (2004), and the Venice Biennale (1993).
Benning has worked extensively with video installations, performance, drawings, paintings, and wall sculptures. Her works challenge traditional notions of masculinity and femininity and also often touch upon intimate subjects close to her personal life. Benning’s early films, made with a Pixelvision camera gifted to her by her father, the filmmaker James Benning, depict intimate scenes of her childhood bedroom to convey the challenges she faced while growing up. Benning also borrows and subverts images from popular culture in her works in order to expose their role in constructing false and oppressive stereotypes of women as well as of gender and sexual identity.
Benning’s work can be found in public and private collections around the world, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; British Film Institute, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Nagoya Multimedia Institution, Nagoyashi; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.