Awareness Post #2 - Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is a neo-contemporary artist. She is 68 years old and has been working since the late 1970s. Holzer’s work mainly focuses on the display of ideas and words. Many of her pieces employ a public element. For example, she often projects words on buildings, posts flyers, uses billboards, and LED signs.

Holzer was interested in art from her childhood. However, she lost much of her interest and confidence as a teenage. When she regained this, she wanted to be an abstract painter. Holzer is highly educated and has taken many art classes and has multiple degrees. In 1976 she moved to New York City to be a part of the Whitney Independent Study Program. This was when she began her earliest work with text. It was then, in the late 70s in New York City, that she began to receive attention for her work.


  • Duke University - general art courses

  • University of Chicago - classes in painting, printmaking, and drawing

  • Ohio University - BFA in 1972

  • Rhode Island School of Design - MFA in 1975


Gallery Representation

  • I was unable to find any specific gallery representation for Holzer. For a long time, her work was “shown” outside of galleries and museums. It was her original intent to make art outside of those contexts and assessable to the public. She began as a street artist.

Going from the street to the museum partly came from the need and desire to be a better artist.
— Jenny Holzer, via The Art Story

CV Highlights

  • Holzer’s work is in collections at Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, among others.

  • Golden Lion Award for work in the 1990 Venice Biennale

  • Blair Award from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982

  • Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in 1996

Inflammatory Essays , lithograph on paper, image: 431 x 431 mm, Tate, purchased 1983, P77391

Inflammatory Essays, lithograph on paper, image: 431 x 431 mm, Tate, purchased 1983, P77391

The idea of text being one of the main drivers of an artistic piece is something which I enjoy. I have much of this in my own work, and hope to continue creating pieces in this style.

I don’t see so many young people addressing social circumstance, or ecological circumstance, or economic circumstance through art today.
— Jenny Holzer, via The Art Story

I love her reaction (in the above video) to being asked in this video if she “is still a feminist in the current era.”

Further Reading and Videos