Jenny Holzer: Artist Portrait

Jenny Holzer

Born 1950.
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Jenny Holzer Biography

Born in 1950 Gallipolis, Ohio, multi-media artist Jenny Holzer earned her BFA in printmaking and painting from Ohio University, Athens, in 1972, and her MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, in 1977. While attending RISD, Holzer began experimenting with and including language in her artwork, a mode that has come to be the most recognizable in her oeuvre.

Following her formal training, she undertook the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in New York, which culminated in the Truisms series—a series composed entirely of paper-based text works that she posted throughout New York City. The texts were made up of widely-familiar phrases, such as “Children are the hope of the future,” but, as they were presented in stark isolation, they relayed alternative implications. They were later presented on t-shirts, billboards and other common site of presentation. The pessimism, and often political, inferences of these works were further heightened by the more comprehensive textual series such as Inflammatory Essays (1979–1982). As Holzer’s practice evolved, so too did the supports of her text based work; they have included LED signs, floor tiles, and stone slabs and benches.

In 1990, Holzer was awarded the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale for installation for the United States Pavilion. She has subsequently been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Berlin Prize Fellowship in 2000, and the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government in 2002. She continues to live and work in Hoosick, New York, and her work can be found in many prestigious collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Tate Britain, London.

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