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Art Fairs — 2021

American artist Nancy Holt (1938–2014) was a key member of the Earth, Land, and Conceptual art movements and a pioneer of public art, site-specific installation and moving image work. While she worked in a diverse range of media, photography was central to her practice. Her overriding theme was vision; the phenomena of sight, how we look and how we become conscious of our looking. For Holt the camera was a tool that allowed her not only to record objects, people and places, but – in a conceptual leap – to record the act of seeing and recording.

 

In the mid 1960s Holt worked as an assistant literary editor at the magazine Harper’s Bazaar and her first art works, made in 1966, were concrete poems and text-based works of art. Soon after she also began to experiment with photography. These important early works announce many themes that would continue to preoccupy her as she developed her major works in the landscape: sight, site, systems, place and geography.

 

Holt’s beginnings as an artist coincided with radical cultural shifts that initiated new ways of making art and, with her contemporaries – alongside explorations of text and film – she embraced the possibilities of photography. For Holt, it enabled extended meditations on the changing conditions of place, a passage through space or an extended investigation of site. For Holt, photography was often just one part of a larger conceptual construction.

 

This presentation explores Holt’s use of serial imagery in ‘composite’ works such as Concrete Visions (1967) and Views Through A Sand Dune (1972), which documents an important early landscape intervention, and a major multi-part work, California Sun Signs (1972). It also includes works in which Holt ‘choreographed’ collaborators such as Robert Smithson and Joan Jonas.

Armory Online

Nancy Holt: Photoworks 1962 – 1972

9 – 14 September 2021

Introduction

Selected Works

Nancy Holt

Biography

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Nancy Holt (April 5, 1938 – February 8, 2014) grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Tufts University, where she majored in biology. In 1963 she married Robert Smithson (1938–1973). Holt is known for her earthworks, public sculpture and installation work. Best known for her large-scale environmental works Sun Tunnels (1973–76, Great Basin Desert, Utah) and Dark Star Park (1970–84, Arlington County, Virginia) her public sculptures are permanently installed in locations across Europe and North America. In 2018 Sun Tunnels was acquired by Dia Art Foundation, with the support of Holt/Smithson Foundation.

 

In 2010-12 the retrospective exhibition ‘Nancy Holt: Sightlines’ travelled from Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York to venues in Karlsruhe, Boston, Chicago, Santa Fe, and Salt Lake City, accompanied by a monograph by Alena J Williams (University of California Press). Other notable recent exhibitions include Dia Art Foundation, New York (2018); ‘Nancy Holt: Locators’, Parafin, London (2015); ‘Nancy Holt: Land Art’, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2013); ‘Nancy Holt: Selected Film and Photo Works’, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2013); and ‘Nancy Holt: Photoworks’, Haunch of Venison, London (2012). Her work has been included in major survey exhibitions including ‘Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974’ at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012-13), and ‘Light Show’ at Hayward Gallery, London (2013).

 

In 2012 Nancy Holt was made a Chevalier of the of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. In 2013 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center in New York.

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