Jenny Holzer

A comprehensive look at the American artist's famous text works.

Survey by David Joselit, Interview by Joan Simon, Focus by Renata Saleci, Artist's Choice texts by Samuel Beckett and Elias Canetti, Writings by Jenny Holzer


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Jenny Holzer (b.1950) is one of the most significant artists to work in the public realm since the 1980s. Starting on the streets of New York with simple fly-posters, she has gone on to disseminate her truisms, slogans, memorials and poems through a variety of media. They are enunciated by an unstable register of personae, be it ad-man, stand-up comedian, torturer, victim or evangelist. The sites for her work range from T-shirts and golf balls to dazzling electronic signboards at baseball stadiums.

Her work uses language to investigate the nature of ideologies as conscious and unconscious formations about identity and experience. Her complex and poetic texts can be shocking, humorous and intriguing in content. At the same time she draws on Minimalism's use of industrial materials and deploys scale, movement and light to create art of great formal power and beauty.

In the Survey, art critic and academic David Joselit surveys Holzer's changing oeuvre, from the first appearance of the streetwise Truisms in the late 1970 to her large-scale installations in museums worldwide. Joan Simon, curator of Holzer's first solo US museum exhibition, discusses with the artist her use of language and its relationship to visual form. In the Focus, Slovenian cultural theorist and philosopher Renata Salecl takes an in-depth look at Holzer's Lustmord series, which was precipitated by the events in the former Yugoslavia and boldly addresses the atrocities committed in war. For the Artist's Choice, the artist's fragmented, unexpected language is mirrored in Samuel Beckett's Ill Seen Ill Said, which the artist has chosen alongside extracts from Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti. A text by the artist on her literary influences accompanies a selection of her signature texts in the Artist's Writings section.


Format: Paperback
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 160 pp
Illustrations: 150 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714837543

David Joselit is Assistant Professsor of Art History at UCLA, Irvine. Formerly at Boston's ICA, where he curated numerous exhibitions on post-war art, he is a regular contributor to Artforum and Art in America. His book Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp, 1910-1941 was published by MIT in 1998.

Joan Simon is a Paris-based, American-born writer, curator and arts administrator. She organized Jenny Holzer's first US museum exhibition and catalogue, and her books include the Bruce Nauman catalogue raisonné (1994) and Ann Hamilton (1998).

Renata Salecl is a Slovenian cultural theorist and philosopher. Her many books include The Spoils of Freedom: Psychoanalysis and Feminism after the Fall of Socialism (1994) and Voice and Gaze as Love Objects (1996).

On the Contemporary Artists Series

"The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."—Artforum

"The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."—Time Out

"A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."—The Sunday Times

"Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."—The Art Book

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