Portland Museum of Art Receives Jenny Holzer Painting from collector Kevin Longe

The Portland Museum of Art has received a painting by internationally known artist Jenny Holzer from contemporary art collector Kevin Longe. The painting entitled Left Hand is currently on view in the Museum’s third floor galleries.

Jenny Holzer

“This is a significant gift and the first major painting by Jenny Holzer to come into the Museum’s collection,” said Museum Director Mark H. C. Bessire. “A painting by Holzer greatly enhances our contemporary collection and we are fortunate to have the support of collectors like Kevin Longe.”

Left Hand features an enormous handprint below an enigmatic hand-written inscription that gives the name of an Iraqi detainee who died in Abu Ghraib prison. Like other works in her Protect Protect series, Left Hand is taken from previously classified documents made public by the United States Government. When Holzer exhibited works from this series at the 2007 Biennale in Venice, she observed that, “People find them sad. The prints from the detainees are post-mortem, and it is ghastly to take a dead man’s hands and yank them down to make prints. That’s why those handprints are distorted.” While the subject matter is difficult, Holzer’s paintings have elements that are in the spirit of Pop and contemporary artists, such as Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, whose work raised difficult subjects to high art.

Holzer’s identity as an artist has been closely linked to her use of language, specifically aphorisms, that she carves in granite benches, displays as large LED signs, and projects in public spaces. In December 2010, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Nelson Social Justice Fund lecture series at the Portland Museum of Art, the Museum commissioned a projection by Holzer for the Museum’s façade. This site-specific work, For Portland, featured selections from the poetry of Nobel Prize-winner Wisława Szymborska. The projection was on view for one night only and was a crowd-stopper for downtown Portland. The Museum also owns a small set of Holzer sayings printed on wooden postcards, one of which reads: “Protect me from what I want.”

Kevin Longe is an avid supporter of the Portland Museum of Art and president of Lydall Filtration/Separation, Inc. in Manchester, Connecticut. In January 2010, along with the Jenny Holzer painting, Longe loaned the Museum thwo major works of contemporary art by Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly. The two works are all black and white and large in scale, with each featuring a distinctive surface that engages the visitor in different ways-politically, thematically, and aesthetically.

For more information, call (207) 775-6148. Web site: portlandmuseum.org

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