Art History: Jenny Holzer




Jenny Holzer is a neo-conceptual artist. She uses words to create narratives and make points about different issues and ideas. She became known, and still is primarily known, for her Truisms. She was like an early Banksy. She printed her Truisms, simplified phrases suming up large and often loaded concepts, in a simple black font on white paper and then posted them around New York using wheat-paste. She later incorporated other mediums and ways to display her truisms including projecting images on buildings, LED devices, bronze placeards and stone benches, some of which are in The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden outside the Walker Museum.



There are a few things about her work that make an impression on me. The first is her use of the public space. It has that spirit of graffiti art. It isn’t just about the gallery setting and it can pop-up or be found anywhere. Another thing is the way it challenges what art is. When you think about art you might think about a painting, drawing or sculpture. Art is often conveying an idea without words. A picture is worth a thousand words, but her work challenges that. Her Truisms were printed on white paper with a simple black font. She didn’t just stick with ink and paper though. She fully embraces technology and just about any medium of displaying her work. T-shirts, stone benches, scrolling LED signs, a BMW race car or the back of the dress that Lorde wore to the 2018 Grammys, she continues to work and provoke conversation and bring to light, literally, ideas that we often would like to keep hidden.