Jenny Holzer
American neo-conceptual artist



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Jenny Holzer
American neo-conceptual artist
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Birth Date

July 29, 1950

Arty Fact

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The work of Jenny Holzer feels like slam poetry meets fine art with just a hint of vandalism and a feminist slant. The perfect edgy bohemian combination, no?

Like many before her, Holzer first found fame by pissing people off. She began by writing truisms on paper and pasting them all over buildings around Manhattan, just some low key vandalism. She then moved on to papering neighborhoods with her ideas on flyers, because why not litter for the sake of art? While some may have been peeved by this approach to art making, it is most likely what she is trying to say through her art that leaves people a little on edge. See, some may call Holzer a Debbie Downer. She is always reminding us of the prejudice, eminent doom, and cruelty that fills our world and does so through poignant phrases and digital projections. I suppose this pessimistic angle makes sense when you realize that Holzer was never been the cool kid on the block *insert Jenny from the Block joke here*. As Holzer recalled, "It was only when I was in my 20s, I realized 'being normal' was out of reach (and that maybe I was okay with that) so I went back to art”. I suppose this might not bode well for all you artsy types.

Since, Holzer has become a pretty big deal in the arts, with that statement being validated by becoming the first woman to represent the United States at the esteemed Venice Biennale. Holzer’s work is pervasive as well, appearing on pretty much every surface from billboards to parking meters and even on condoms. Yes, condoms. So when you're getting down and dirty you can be reminded of one of Holzer’s glaring truisms such as “Men don’t protect you anymore." I guess our only hope is that the condom will...

In 2001, Holzer ditched writing her own truisms and now hires others to produce the writing for her work. Now you may be thinking that is a bit of a cop-out since her text is the cornerstone of her work, but isn't that the indication that you have made it in life? She still gets all the credit but doesn’t have to do the work. #lifegoals. Not that she wants the notoriety that comes with being a famous artist. Holzer aims to remove herself completely from the work; total anonymity is her goal. She wants people to think about the words, not the person who wrote them, (who as we now know may or may not be Holzer herself).




  1. Glueck, Grace. “And Now, a Few Words from Jenny Holzer”. The New York Times. December 3, 1989. Accessed September 20, 2017.
  2. “Jenny Holzer”. Art History Archive - Biography and Art. Accessed September 20, 2017.
  3. “Jenny Holzer”. The Art Story. Accessed September 20, 2017.
  4. “Jenny Holzer.” Artsy. Accessed September 20, 2017.
  5. “Jenny Holzer in “Protest””. [November 2007]. Art 21 video.
  6. Smith, Roberta. “Sounding the Alarm, in Words and Light”. The New York Times. March 22, 2009. Accessed September 20, 2017.
  7. Sokol, Brett. “Taking it to the Streets with Jenny Holzer.” The New York Times. December 12, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2017.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950) is an American neo-conceptual artist, based in Hoosick, New York. The main focus of her work is the delivery of words and ideas in public spaces.

Holzer belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that emerged around 1980, looking for new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. She was an active member Colab during this time. Other female contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.

The public dimension is integral to Holzer's work. Her large-scale installations have included advertising billboards, projections on buildings and other architectural structures, and illuminated electronic displays. LED signs have become her most visible medium, although her diverse practice incorporates a wide array of media including street posters, painted signs, stone benches, paintings, photographs, sound, video, projections, the Internet, T-shirts for Willi Smith, and a race car for BMW. Text-based light projections have been central to Holzer's practice since 1996. As of 2010, her LED signs have become more sculptural. Holzer is no longer the author of her texts, and in the ensuing years, she returned to her roots by painting.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Jenny Holzer.