Best Museum Acquisition

Jenny Holzer, For SAAM, Smithsonian American Art Museum

The slowly scrolling LED lights of Jenny Holzer’s pillar-shaped installation, For SAAM, are instantly captivating, like a hypnotist swinging a watch before your eyes. The piece, installed last November, utilizes the artist’s signature LED word displays of witty one-liners and phrases from her famous “Truisms,” such as “Abuse of power comes as no surprise” or “It’s just an accident that your parents are your parents.” Created specifically for the Lincoln Gallery on the top floor of the Reynolds Center, For SAAM’s simplistic elegance and humor steal the show from the gallery’s other large flashy installation—the nearby Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S. by Nam June Paik. Holzer makes us work hard for her pearls of wisdom—the text moves fast, and chasing it exhausts the eyes, but reading the artist’s simple maxims reminds us of things we always and never knew.

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