A wheat paste by Jenny Holzer on the Onion Building in Spring Arts
Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms on 1002 Buttonwood Street in Spring Arts

From the Barnes…

Jenny Holzer (American, born 1950)
Truisms, 1977–79
Offset black and white posters on paper

Courtesy of the artist:

From late February through May, the façade of 1002 Buttonwood Street is covered with Holzer’s Truisms posters. Their pithy one-liners express multiple viewpoints aimed at eliciting a wide range of responses from passersby. Arranged in columns in alphabetical order, they are variously aggressive, comic, and profound.

Holzer began creating the Truisms in 1977, when she participated in the Whitney Museum’s independent study program in New York. Her statements were a concise response to the erudite readings assigned by the artists teaching at the Whitney. Partly in jest, she described the Truisms as her own “Reader’s Digest version of Western and Eastern thought.” Printed inexpensively using a commercial process, she pasted them up as posters around New York.

The artist has become increasingly well known for displays of words and ideas in public spaces—ranging from text-based LED signs and light projections on buildings to T-shirts and baseball caps. Her work has been displayed in storefronts, on advertising billboards and outdoor walls, and in museums and galleries worldwide. She has carved her texts into stone benches and cast them on metal plaques.

Holzer belongs to a generation of feminist artists who sought new ways to incorporate narrative and commentary into visual objects. Recently she returned to painting, creating a series of screen-printed texts based on declassified government memos detailing prisoner abuse.

Based in Hoosick Falls, New York, Holzer received a BFA from Ohio University after studying at Duke University and University of Chicago. She holds an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

This installation of Holzer’s Truisms posters is part of the exhibition Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie, on view at the Barnes Foundation from February 25 to May 22 and at other sites throughout the city. Person of the Crowd showcases the work of more than 50 international artists—present-day flâneurs (strollers or idlers) who have taken to the streets to play detective, make fantastic maps, scavenge and shop for new materials, and launch guerrilla campaigns. These artists often make provocative spectacles of themselves and address issues as diverse as apartheid, consumerism, gentrification, globalism, and homelessness. They join the crowds in city streets around the world and here in Philadelphia, their heightened connection to the urban social fabric stimulating novel art about the nature of contemporary experience.

Visit personofthecrowd.org for more information and updates on the exhibition.

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