Jenny Holzer: For the Guggenheim

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Due to the redesign of, past exhibitions prior to 2008 are archived externally; visiting these pages will open a new window.

September 26–December 31, 2008

For the Guggenheim illuminates the exterior of the building every Friday evening through December 31, 2008, with the exception of October 24, from 6:30 to 11 p.m., with a special additional showing on New Year’s Eve. 

From September 2005 to July 2008, the Guggenheim Museum was enclosed in scaffolding while a team of architects, structural engineers, and conservators undertook a comprehensive condition assessment and restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark building in preparation for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2009. While in good structural condition, the building required the removal of eleven coats of paint, filling of exterior cracks, treatment of corroded steel structures, and repair and reinforcement of the concrete.

The restoration was initiated in 2003 when former chairman of the Guggenheim Board of Trustees, Peter B. Lewis, pledged a significant gift to the project. Additional grants from the State of New York, as well as many individual and corporate sponsors, also made the restoration a reality. In celebration of the restoration and as a tribute to Mr. Lewis, the foundation commissioned artist Jenny Holzer to create a site-specific light projection entitled For the Guggenheim for the facade of the newly restored museum. Her transformative work will cast large-scale texts—comprising the artist’s own writings and poems—directly onto Frank Lloyd Wright’s curving architecture. Suffused with a play of light and changing language, the building and its surroundings will become an environment for looking, discussing, and gathering.

This commission extends the museum’s ongoing commitment to Holzer’s work, established with her 1989 survey at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and in works commissioned for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. For more than thirty years, Jenny Holzer’s incisive work has drawn on the explosive power of the written word. Incorporating strategies of mass-communication and the politics of public space, her street posters, LED displays, carved-stone benches, and recent paintings tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time. Text-based light projections have been central to Holzer’s practice since 1996. Akin to credits rolling at the end of a film, the projected language allows her to work demonstratively with the ephemeral. Her projections have taken place in four continents, fourteen countries, and more than thirty cities including Florence, Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Oslo, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Paris, Singapore, San Diego, and New York City. From Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and I.M. Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre in Paris to the New York Public Library and Rockefeller Center in New York, Holzer’s light events have reimagined and paid tribute to iconic architectural spaces throughout the world.

The restoration of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was made possible through the generous support of Peter B. Lewis, the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York. Additional support was provided by the State of New York and MAPEI Corporation.

For the Guggenheim, 2008. Light projection. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Text: “The End and the Beginning,” “Could Have,” “Children of Our Age,” “In Praise of Feeling Bad about Yourself,” “The Joy of Writing,” “Tortures,” and “Parting with a View,” from View with a Grain of Sand by Wisława Szymborska, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh. © 1993 by Wisława Szymborska. English translation copyright © 1995 by Harcourt, Inc. Used/reprinted with permission of the author; “Some People,” from Poems New and Collected by Wisława Szymborska, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh. © 1998 by Harcourt. Inc. Used/reprinted with permission of the author. © 2008 Jenny Holzer/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Video: Produced by Second Floor Films, edited by Thomas Piper, photographed by David Sampliner



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