JENNY HOLZER "CHARISMATIC LEADER - INFLAMMATORY ESSAY" 1982

$495

Jenny Holzer is one of the most important and original artists of the 20th century.

Her body of work, with its emphasis on text, is provocative and occasionally frightening, manipulating the language of folk wisdom, pop culture and government slogan to produce commentary on global issues including power structures, gender struggle, economics, voting and warfare.

Holzer's iconic "Inflammatory Essays", produced between 1979 and 1982, were first pasted on walls throughout heavily populated metro areas including New York and shortly after in other cities. Unsigned and commercially produced, they subverted the conventions of both advertising, graffiti and public art. Each essay was in a different eye-catching color to maximize viewers attention. It was also helpful when one Essay replaced an older one

The texts were derived from her childhood interest in rapturous writings. Holzer tried to emulate a similar style for her essays, yet borrowed from political theorists (notably Mao, Lenin and Emma Goldman), anarchists and religious fanatics.

The essays shift between multiple viewpoints and do not reflect Holzer’s own, but rather overall themes and styles taken from her inspirations. The essay's tones are declarative, aggressive, urgent, and often menacing. 

Each essay contains exactly 100 words in 20 lines of text. The rigidity of this contained format is juxtaposed against the extreme content exploding from the essay. It is worth emphasizing that these texts were frequently pasted on walls alongside or even covering conventional street advertising. 

Over the course of Holzer's career, the artist has continued to revisit the content and affect of the "Inflammatory Essays" and as such they are like cornerstone of her practice.  

The text for this powder blue Inflammatory Essay drips with both parody and flashes of historical reality while espousing the need for a great leader to guide the directionless masses. Though created decades ago, Holzer's texts remain timeless and urgent - and perhaps more relevant than ever given today's sociopolitical environment. 

The "Inflammatory Essays" can be found in numerous museum collections including the Tate (London), the Broad (Los Angeles, The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), MACBA (Barcelona), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris) to mention a few. 

Questions about this artwork? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720

"Inflammatory Essay" (from Documenta 1982)

Offset lithograph

17”H 17”W

Very good condition

Detailed condition report by request 

Note: Essays were photographed in plastic protective sleeves 

Literature: "Jenny Holzer" by Diane Waldman 1989, pg. 58-59

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