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Jenny Holzer (American, born 1950)

About this artist

Source: The Museum of Modern Art

Jenny Holzer works with language as an artistic medium, employing it across a variety of formats, from hand-typed text to printed posters to LED displays. "I used language because I wanted to offer content that people—not necessarily art people—could understand," she has said. Her work is part of the public domain, equally accessible in museums and galleries as in storefronts, on billboards and T-shirts, and even electrified in New York's Times Square. She began her first public works, called Truisms, in 1977, as an ongoing series of provocative one-line statements that she collected, commercially printed, and distributed in and around Manhattan. Since then she has continued to make work that challenges the conventional understanding of art's function and place.

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About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American installation and conceptual artist. Her studies included general art courses at Duke University, Durham, NC (1968–70), and then painting, printmaking and drawing at the University of Chicago before completing her BFA at Ohio University, Athens (1972). In 1974 she took summer courses at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, entering its MFA programme in 1975 and beginning her first work with language, installation and public art. Holzer moved to New York in 1977. Her first public works, Truisms (1977–9), appeared in the form of anonymous broadsheets pasted on buildings, walls and fences in and around Manhattan. Commercially printed in cool, bold italics, numerous one-line statements such as ‘Abuse of power comes as no surprise’ and ‘There is a fine line between information and propaganda’, were meant to be provocative and elicit public debate. Thereafter Holzer used language and the mechanics of late 20th-century communications as an assault on established notions of where art should be shown, with what intention and for whom. Her texts took the forms of posters, monumental and electronic signs, billboards, television and her signature medium, the LED (light emitting diode) sign. Other works appeared on T-shirts, tractor hats, stickers, metal plaques, park benches and sarcophagi. The LED signs have been placed in high-impact public spaces such as Times Square, New York, as well as in art galleries and museums.


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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