SANTA FE, NM.-
Nancy Holt (1938-2014) recalibrated the limits of art. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. A pioneer of site-specific installation and the moving image, Holt was a member of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements. Her rich artistic output spanned concrete poetry, audio, film, video, photography, slideworks, ephemeral gestures, drawings, room-sized installations, earthworks, books, and public sculpture commissions. Across five decades Holt asked questions about how we might understand our place in the world, investigating systems of perception and expanding understanding of place.
The partnership between Sprüth Magers and Holt/Smithson Foundation
launches with a presentation this month at Art Basels Online Viewing Room: Pioneers that pairs the work of Nancy Holt with Hanne Darboven. Solo exhibitions in the gallerys Berlin and Los Angeles spaces follow this Fall. Berlin will present Holts room-sized installation Mirrors of Light I (1973), while Los Angeles will take a journey through three decades of Holts influential artistic practice, taking in drawing, photoworks, and sculpture.
The Art Basel presentation is on view from March 24 to 27, 2021. Nancy Holt / Hanne Darboven: Time goes on and remains centers on a work by Darboven in Holts private collection, exhibited for the first time. One week after the passing of Holt's partner Robert Smithson in 1973 Darboven sent Holt a hand-bound artist book composed of seven parts, filled with Darbovens characteristic u-lines and the cursive dedication: Dear Nancy, this is my writing to you, you and Bob in my mind - wordless. Nancy, love, Hanne.
Little is known about Holt and Darbovens relationship, other than that they moved in the same artistic circles in New York City during the late 1960s. In distinctive ways, both artists paid attention to the systems we use to attempt to understand the imponderables of time and space. The title, Time goes on and remains points to Holt and Darbovens shared interest in seriality and duration, with the words Holts own from 1978, published in a special edition of Arts Magazine dedicated to Smithson. The selection of works for this OVR spans large scale installations, photographic series, and works on paper.
Born 1938 in Worcester in Massachusetts, Nancy Holt grew up in New Jersey. She graduated with a degree in biology from Tufts University, Massachusetts in 1960. Later that year she moved to New York City.
Holt was attentive to language as a system structuring perception and understanding of place. In the mid 1960s she worked as an assistant literary editor at the magazine Harpers Bazaar, and in 1966 began creating concrete poems. Soon after she took language into the landscape with her Buried Poems, expanding to consider site through film, video, and audio. The first presentation of her work was in the group exhibition Language III at Dwan Gallery, New York in 1969; her first solo exhibition was in 1972 at 10 Bleecker Street, New York. Photography was an essential medium for Holt; it enabled vision to be fixed. The process of focusing visual perception led Holt to create her Locators, which she described as seeing devices. Comprising T-shaped industrial piping to be looked through with one eye, the Locators, in turn, led to her landmark earthwork Sun Tunnels (1973-76) that, in her words, brought the stars down to earth.
Holts work is held in major collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum für Gegenswartkunst, Germany; Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 2018 Sun Tunnels (1973-76) and Holes of Light (1974) were acquired by Dia Art Foundation, with support from Holt/Smithson Foundation. Works by Holt are permanently installed at public institutions including Miami University Art Museum, Ohio; University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Western Washington University; and University of South Florida.
In 2010-12 a touring retrospective exhibition, Nancy Holt: Sightlines, surveyed her five decades of art making, accompanied by a monograph edited by Alena J Williams. Other recent solo exhibitions include Points of View, Parafin, London (2020); Dia Art Foundation, New York (2018); Nancy Holt: Land Art, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2013); and Nancy Holt: Selected Film and Photo Works, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2013).
In 2021 Holts work is the focus of Light and Language at Lismore Castle Arts in Ireland, bringing five decades of her work in conversation with five artists working today. In 2022 Holt is the subject of a major survey, Nancy Holt: Inside/Outside, at Bildmuseet, Sweden. The museums at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Western Washington University are presenting solo exhibitions in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
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. Holt received five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two New York Creative Artist Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Florida, Tampa.
Nancy Holt continues to be represented by London-based gallery Parafin, which presented a solo exhibition of her work in 2020.