Holzer, Jenny

Show/Hide Bio

Jenny Holzer was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1950. She received a BA from Ohio University in Athens (1972); an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (1977); and honorary doctorates from the University of Ohio (1993), the Rhode Island School of Design (2003), and New School University, New York (2005). The content of Holzer’s work questions consumerist impulses, describing torture, or lamenting death and disease. Holzer’s texts—such as the aphorisms “Abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “Protect me from what I want”—have appeared on posters and condoms, and as electronic LED signs and projections of xenon light provoking a response from the viewer. Her recent use of text ranges from silk-screened paintings of declassified government memoranda detailing prisoner abuse to poetry and prose in a sixty-five-foot-wide wall of light in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center, New York. She has received many awards, including the Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale (1990); the Skowhegan Medal (1994); and the Diploma of Chevalier (2000) from the French government. Major exhibitions include Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2001); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1997); Dia Art Foundation, New York (1989); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1989). She was the first woman to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale (1990). Since 1996, Jenny Holzer has organized public light projections in cities worldwide, including a public art installation in Pittsburgh which sends the texts of five books by authors with Pittsburgh roots — Annie Dillard, John Edgar Wideman and Thomas Bell — scrolling upward along hundreds of feet of the swooping roofline of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The work, "For Pittsburgh," gives a public presence to books usually read in private, and uses more than 1,500 light-emitting diode tubes to scroll the texts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in letters 36 inches high and 11 inches wide, along two edges of the roof, each nearly 350 feet long.

« Return to Directory