Utilising a variety of surfaces—from posters and canvas to stone benches, LED signs, buildings, and landscapes—American artist Jenny Holzer's text-based works draw upon some of the most pressing social issues of our time: power, gender, inequality, sex, and war.Read More
Holzer's use of text in her iconic 'Truisms' series (1977–1979) was partly motivated by the reading list at the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program, in which she participated in 1976. Consisting of maxims, 'Truisms' offers different voices on life, from light-hearted and whimsical to provocative and contradictory, such as 'CHILDREN ARE THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE' and 'CHILDREN ARE THE CRUELEST OF ALL'. Along with 'Inflammatory Essays' (1979–1982), Holzer's second text-based series about concerns such as power relations, social control, and sexuality, Truisms initially appeared as anonymous posters put up throughout the streets of New York.
Holzer first began to gain critical attention in Europe in the early 1980s, when American artist Dan Graham—who had seen her 'Truisms' posters in New York—introduced her to German curator Kasper König. Following her participation in documenta 7 in 1982, Holzer held solo exhibitions at institutions and galleries such as Kunsthalle Basel (1984) and Monika Sprüth Galerie in Cologne (1986). Some of the artist's most well-known projects debuted in Europe, notably the projection of the words 'I SMELL YOU ON MY SKIN' on the bank of the Arno—a historically and culturally significant site in Florence—in 1996.
In the 1980s, Holzer also expanded her writings and choice of media. The 'Living' series (1980–1982), which appears on aluminium or bronze plaques, addresses everyday life, from the banal activities of eating and sleeping to relationships. In 1982 'Truisms' featured on the Spectacolor sign in New York's Times Square, prompting the artist to further experiment with LED signs and light projections. Other new materials in Holzer's practice included stone, inspired by the change of scenery when she left New York for the countryside in 1985.
Between 1989 and 1990, Holzer held a series of significant solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad. In 1989, she presented Laments (1989) at Dia Chelsea. It consisted of 13 sarcophagi inscribed with words by different individuals who were approaching death, and electronic signs. In the following year, she became the first female artist to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale and won the Golden Lion for best pavilion. Among the works she showed was Mother and Child (1990): a series of 12 LED signs reflecting on her personal experiences as a mother.
Since 2001, Holzer has drawn text from poetry, literature, and government papers to examine social and political tensions in the contemporary world. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are her primary concern in her painting series that reproduces declassified military documents by screen-printing or hand. In these paintings, the redactions are mostly in black, although Holzer sometimes adds colour to create semi-abstractions that recall works by artists such as Mark Rothko and Kazimir Malevich. At her solo exhibition Softer (2017) at Blenheim Palace, the artist juxtaposed her 'Redaction Paintings' and LED signs presenting testimonies by war veterans of the United Kingdom with the palace's historical portraits and paintings to confront the underside of wars glorified in the past and present.
Recent selected solo exhibitions include A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE, Tarmak 22, Gstaad-Saanen Airport, organised by Hauser & Wirth (2019); Thing Indescribable, a major retrospective exhibition at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2019); ARTIST ROOMS: Jenny Holzer, Tate Modern, London (2018); and War Paintings, Museo Correr, Venice (2015).
Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
The election result was undecided late Wednesday US time, though Joe Biden appeared to be leading.
Private curator to Donald B. Marron for over two decades, Matthew Armstrong discusses working with the collector, reminiscing on the boyish enthusiasm Marron exuded when it came to art.
The best art to see online and off from Tuesday 12 to Monday 18 May.
A marble bench sat out of the front of the Pearl Lam Galleries stand at the Sydney Contemporary art fair last week. Inscribed with Chinese characters, and without a card stating the artist or artwork title, many visitors simply passed it by. Those who could read the inscription, and those who asked, found out it said: Don’t put too much...
BILBAO, Spain — One of the strangest things about this exhibition is how invisible it is beyond Bilbao. How does it happen that a major artist like Jenny Holzer gets a major retrospective — the largest survey of her work to date — at a major museum like the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao but no catalogue is produced, and there is...
Jenny Holzer was 26 when she arrived in New York. The freshman art student at the Whitney Museum had grown up in Gallipolis, Ohio, a sleepy town in America's Midwest, and had spent her early twenties jumping from place to place in search of her artistic identity. She started out as an abstract expressionist. Then she tried to capture the human...
It will likely take me months to digest all the lessons I've learned from The Met Breuer's newest exhibition, Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy, so it's a good thing that the show stays open through January.
With their lobbying efforts beginning in 2006, the San Francisco Arts Commission convinced the intergovernmental agency developing the center to commit $4.75 million to on-site public art. Ranging from designed floors to interactive fountains, this funding supported work by James Carpenter, Julie Chang, Jenny Holzer, and Ned Kahn. These works are...
Unfolding across all three floors of Hauser & Wirth New York, 22 nd Street, A Luta Continua is the first United States presentation of the Sylvio Perlstein Collection. Curated by David Rosenberg, the exhibition presents more than 360 works by some 250 artists. Among these are Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Diane Arbus, Hans Bellmer, André...