Jenny Holzer: Light Line

Installation for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

By: - Dec 11, 2023

Almost thirty-five years ago, Jenny Holzer (b. 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio) created a spiraling LED display for a Guggenheim exhibition. The sign—flashing and blinking while changing colors, fonts, and special effects—was the longest in the world at the time of its presentation and is considered a masterpiece in text-based art. From May 17 to September 29, 2024, the Guggenheim Museum will present the solo exhibition Jenny Holzer: Light Line, a reimagining of Holzer’s 1989 landmark installation.

The new manifestation of Holzer’s electronic sign, Installation for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1989/2024), will, once again, transform the building with an updated and expanded display of scrolling texts, featuring selections from her iconic series, such as Truisms and Inflammatory Essays. Taking up three revolutions of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda in the 1989 exhibition, the new installation will climb all six ramps up to the building’s oculus, realizing the artist’s original vision. The artwork will highlight the incisive use of the written word across time and media in Holzer’s practice.

Developed in close collaboration with the artist and her studio, the new sign was also the subject of an ambitious research project at the Guggenheim. Conservators reverse-engineered the 1989 LED hardware and computer program, which helped inform the new manifestation. This investigative research also serves to document future variability and technology upgrades, and it will contribute to scholarship and methodologies for the preservation of technology-based artworks.

In addition to the LED sign, the exhibition will feature a selection of Holzer’s works from the 1970s to the present day, including paintings, works on paper, and stone pieces. During the exhibition’s opening week, Holzer’s For the Guggenheim—a light projection commissioned by the museum in 2008—will be displayed on the building’s façade.

An artist’s book will be published on the occasion of the exhibition, featuring a selection of preparatory drawings used for Holzer’s stonework over the years. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the exhibition through dedicated accessibility programs and content in the Guggenheim’s comprehensive digital guide.

This solo exhibition will reflect how Holzer’s use of the written word throughout her career has long captivated audiences around the world. The messaging is timely and offers audiences the opportunity to encounter the extraordinary, the political, the mundane, and the provocative through the artist’s pioneering approach to technology and language.

Jenny Holzer: Light Line is organized by Lauren Hinkson, Associate Curator for Collections. Conservation research and treatment of Jenny Holzer’s Installation for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1989/2024) is led by Lena Stringari, Deputy Director and Andrew W. Mellon Chief Conservator, and Agathe Jarczyk, Associate Time-Based Media Conservator.

For more than forty years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, joys, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including Times Square, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Her medium—whether a T-shirt, plaque, electronic sign, or stone bench—is writing, and the public dimension is integral to her work. Starting in the 1970s with her New York City street posters and continuing through her recent light projections on landscapes and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage. Holzer received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 1996, and the US State Department’s International Medal of Arts in 2017. She lives and works in New York.