Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer first came to the attention of the general public in the late 1970s. Inspired by Manhattan’s graffiti scene, she began putting up anonymous street posters around the city. These so-called Inflammatory Essays featured excerpts from texts by left-wing intellectuals like Karl Marx and Susan Sontag, and soon began getting a response. ‘People would cross out ones they didn’t like and would star others,’ she explained. ‘I liked that people would engage with them.' This direct dialogue with her audience would become the foundation of her art.

Holzer was born in Gallipolis in Ohio. She gained her Masters in Fine Art at Rhode Island School of Design before taking a study programme at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1977. Her tutor gave her a colossal reading list which she reduced to a series of one-liners, and never looked back. This punk-like attitude fitted with the prevailing sentiments of the era. It was a time of cut-up philosophy defined by subversive slogans and texts. Holzer’s politically-charged statements embodied the rebellious spirit of the age. Her work prompted comparison with artists such Barbara Kruger and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In 1982, Messages to the Public featured a series of aphorisms on a Spectacolor electronic sign in Times Square. Part of her Truisms series, it included now-iconic slogans such as ‘PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT’ and ‘ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE’. Holzer has been synonymous with the blinking LED light ever since. Her neon installations and projections can be hypnotic, with text scrolling across walls and floors in glowing lines of red and gold. Yet the subject matter is never soothing. She has addressed issues including rape, famine, climate change, murder, war and AIDS, and has used declassified government documents in her art.

As well as installation, Holzer's practice encompasses paintings, prints and sculpture: her marble benches Arno Pair (2010) sold for $1,560,000 at Christie’s New York in 2022, setting a new world record. Elsewhere she has also explored digital technology, notably through her 2020 augmented reality app YOU BE MY ALLY. In 2022, she created an NFT in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn abortion rights. Her work has also intersected with popular culture over the years, appearing on everything from T-shirts to Helmut Lang advertising campaigns and temporary tattoos.


JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Selection from Truisms: A sincere effort is all you can ask...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Selections from Truisms: Abuse of Power…

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from Truisms: A sense of timing...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from Truisms: A single event...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Survival: Protect me...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from Truisms (A Lot of Professionals...)

JENNY HOLZER (b. 1950)

Selection from Survival: The Beginning of War Will Be Secret

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selection from "The Living Series" (Little Queenie)

Jenny Holzer (B. 1950)

Laments: I Am A Man

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Put Food Out in the Same Place Everyday and Talk to the People Who Come to Eat and Organize Them (Survival Series)

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Living Series: By Your Response to Danger…

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Selection from Survival: When there is no safe place...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

TOP SECRET Sleep deprivation, US government document

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selection from Survival: You are caught...

JENNY HOLZER (NEE EN 1950)

Selection from the living series: What a shock...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selection from Survival: It Is in Your Self-Interest…

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

The Survival Series: What Urge Will Save Us Now That Sex Won't?

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selection from Survival: Men don't protect…

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

When there is no safe place to sleep...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Living Series: It's an odd feeling when...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Truisms Footstool: An elite is inevitable...

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Erlauf, Blue

Jenny Holzer (B. 1950)

Selections from Under a Rock

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from the Survival Series

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from the Survival Series

JENNY HOLZER (b. 1950)

Truisms Footstool

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Living: You have to make thousands of precise...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Truism Footstool (Starvation is nature's way...)

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Survival: Protect me from what I want...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Truisms Footstool: An Elite Is Inevitable...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selection from the Survival Series (When there's no safe place to sleep...)

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Selections from "The Living Series", "Truisms" and "The Survival Series"

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

Olympian Sign: Selections from Truisms , The Living Series and The Survival Series

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

The Living Series: Hands on Socialization Promotes...

Jenny Holzer (B. 1950)

With Sophisticated Record...

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

The Living Series: Just One Rotten Spot

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

The Survival Series: Remember To React

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

The Living Series: Even with your eyes closed

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

If You Aren't Political Your Personal Life Should be Exemplary

JENNY HOLZER (B. 1950)

Selection, from The Survival Series

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950)

You can be a fat fighter of fascism if you never get off the couch and refuse to march in any direction. This isn't the only struggle though.