Jenny Holzer is best known for her arresting and contradictory texts, and her skillful manipulation of mass media channels ranging from light-emitting diode (LED) signs to street posters, plaques, and even brief television spots. She has also conceived and implemented powerful site-specific installations. Her transformation of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York into a moving spiral of electronic information; her widely praised pavilion at the 1990 Venice Biennale (composed of LEDs, benches and inscribed marble floors); and her recent light projections on iconic buildings have fused the text - be it a declaration, a challenge or a lament - with the architecture and sculpture.
For the Stuart Collection, Holzer has created Green Table, a large granite picnic or refectory table and benches inscribed with texts. Several temporary projects also were realized on the campus, including incorporating texts into existing electronic signs and into the Geisel Library computer system. Faux ads were inserted during television commercial breaks, and posters and a series of cast aluminum plaques were installed throughout the campus. Like many of the works in the Stuart Collection, Holzer's table and benches, sited in the Muir College quad, monumentalize an ordinary and functional set of objects. Like all tables, Holzer's work serve as an informal gathering place for students and faculty to eat, study, or play. But the various attitudes Holzer adopts in her writings - from humorous commentary to politically-charged criticism - also create a site for questioning and debate.
Holzer's art came to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s when she began to plaster posters of her "Truisms" in downtown Manhattan. This contradictory list, alphabetically ordered, seemed like a catalogue of cliches, but was, in fact, written and orchestrated by Holzer. The "Truisms" dramatized a depersonalized information landscape through juxtapositions. Holzer has also produced a variety of texts with points of view ranging from ithe indignant to the concerned to the resigned. In a practice spanning more than thirty years, she continues to join ideological statements with the forms and meanings of architecture.
Holzer has completed numerous works since Green Table, including an "anti-memorial" in Nordhorn, Germany, containing a black garden, and a peace monument in Erlauf, Austria. She has realized permanent installations at the Bilbao Museum, the Reichstag and Neue National Galerie in Berlin, 7 World Trade Center in New York City, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Her latest permanent piece is a series of light