Release Date: August 15,2019

Akron Art Museum adds work by Jenny Holzer to its collection

A signature artwork by groundbreaking, internationally celebrated artist Jenny Holzer is coming to the Akron Art Museum, for keeps. The museum has acquired All Fall (2012), a sculptural installation consisting of LED signs that broadcast classic texts written by the artist in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. Holzer, an Ohio-born and educated artist, is a major figure in late 20th and early 21st century art. Her work explores new possibilities in digital-based sculpture and she pioneered the use of information technology as social intervention. Museum staff will install All Fall in the museum’s Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation Gallery, and the dynamic artwork will be on view beginning September 3, 2019.

John S. Knight Director and CEO Mark Masuoka said, “Stewardship of significant artworks by the artists of our time has long been engrained in the museum’s core values. The Akron Art Museum is known for its world-class collection, assembled through generous donors and visionary directors and curators who made prescient purchases of iconic artworks. The addition of Jenny Holzer’s All Fall further enriches the museum’s collection of contemporary sculpture with yet another must-see artwork by an artist of international renown.”

All Fall is an array of five double-sided LED signs (each one 8 5/8 feet long) in stainless steel housings, with blue and green diodes on one side and red and yellow diodes on the other. The signs broadcast a nearly eight-hour script of Holzer’s writings taken from earlier projects Truisms (1978-79), Survival (1983-85) and Living (1981). Truisms are intentionally contradictory writings such as “ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE,” and “BAD INTENTIONS CAN YIELD GOOD RESULTS,” which Holzer has described as a Reader’s Digest version of Eastern and Western thought. The Survival texts warn of the dangers of everyday life with pronouncements such as “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT;” slogans from Survival were originally displayed on large-scale electronic signboards in public spaces. Living includes a collection of aphoristic writings, such as “YOU’RE HOME FREE AS SOON AS NO ONE KNOWS WHERE TO FIND YOU,” that Holzer initially presented on bronze plaques, giving them an institutional, authoritative look. All Fall is a dynamic sculptural installation with two opposing color palettes and multiple viewing angles, synthesizing key examples of the artist’s previous work into a new configuration. The artist produced the work in an edition of just three.

Holzer is known for her use of language to explore the ways words can manipulate and influence. While she considers her work political and is deeply engaged with such issues as feminism, poverty, nuclear proliferation and AIDS, her short texts range from inflammatory declarations to introspective reflections, expressing a range of viewpoints—or none at all. She has always placed her work in public spaces that reach large audiences, using electronic billboards, projecting onto landmark buildings or posting handbills anonymously on buildings around Manhattan. Holzer is associated with a group of feminist woman artists, including Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger, who broke ground with new ways of incorporating language into their work starting in the late 1970s

In addition to joining works by Sherman and Kruger in the Akron Art Museum collection, All Fall enters the collection alongside significant sculptures by artists including Yinka Shonibare, Kiki Smith, Sol LeWitt, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Nam June Paik and Viola Frey. The artwork also traces a connection between Nam June Paik’s use of video and television, pop art such as Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and Donald Judd’s minimalist aluminum and Plexiglas sculptures.

Holzer was born in Gallipolis, Ohio in 1950. She received a B.A. from Ohio University in Athens, an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and numerous honorary doctorates. She was the first woman to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale (1990), where she was awarded the Leone D’Oro. Major museums have exhibited her work, including solo exhibitions at the Tate Modern (2018-2019), Whitney Museum of American Art (2009) and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum (1989).