Lot 1128
  • 1128

JENNY HOLZER | In a Dream You Saw (From the Survival Series)

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
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  • Jenny Holzer
  • In a Dream You Saw (From the Survival Series)
  • carrara marble
  • 45.7 by 182.9 by 45.7 cm. 18 by 72 by 18 in.
inscribed with the studio's inventory number JH1996.u on the underside


Collection of the artist
Sotheby’s London, 12 February 2015, Lot 1 (donated by the above)
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

"I used language because I wanted to offer content that people - not necessarily art people - could understand." Jenny Holzer

Best known for her erudite use of language, Jenny Holzer has explored text in her work since the famous series of Truisms (1977-79). Distributed throughout Manhattan on white sheets of paper, these nearly three hundred one-liners highlighted the cliché nature of common slogans through texts such as Money creates taste – in itself saying little whilst sounding somewhat profound and authoritative. Whilst her early practice was almost purely text-based (unlike contemporaries such as Barbara Kruger who juxtaposed text with images), the public dissemination of these text was an equally integral part of her oeuvre. Instead of confining herself to conventional gallery spaces, Holzer distributed her messages publicly through posters, light projections, billboards, t-shirts, LEDs, metal plaques, and indeed through marble benches such as the present work.

As Holzer began to diversify her use of materials in the early 1980s, her new Survival series (1983-85) took on a much more urgent tone. Prominently positioned on large LED signs in public spaces such as the Times Square in New York, these new texts warned of the dangers of living in contemporary society and included now famous phrases such as Protect Me From What I Want, which could be read as a warning of the dangers of rampant consumerism.

The artist first began working in stone for a 1986 exhibition titled ‘Under a Rock’, and her marble benches featured prominently alongside LED signs when she subsequently represented the United States as the first living female American artist at the Venice Biennale in 1990, for which she was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion. Giving her usually flat texts a three-dimensional life, the marble benches with their inscribed texts evoke the memorial plaques on benches in public parks, though in this case the message is notably more poetic: In a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive and You Were Full of Joy. Perfectly capturing Jenny Holzer’s unique fusion of art and language through a medium that is typical of her interest in public space, the present work is an outstanding example of the artist’s radical oeuvre.