Jenny Holzer - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction London Thursday, January 12, 2023 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • TOP SECRET//STLW//HCS/COMINT//ORCON/NOFORN, 2017, is a graphite and watercolour
    work on paper by Jenny Holzer, the tenth recipient of Whitechapel Gallery’s Art Icon Award.


    In this seductive, unique work, which references the aesthetic of minimalism, Holzer
    reproduces a redacted, declassified page from an internal US government report on the
    President’s Surveillance Program, which allowed the National Security Agency to monitor
    Americans’ international phone calls and emails, and to collect bulk metadata on those


    Holzer’s replication of the source document is invigorated with red pigment that grows
    muddy as it runs down the vellum surface. This painterly dialogue between colour, surface,
    and texture materialises the quiet violence of bureaucratic censorship and obfuscation. We
    are left to fill in the blanks and try to arrive at a moment of clarity, but questions around
    secrecy, opacity, protection, and subterfuge remain.


    This work was previously displayed in Holzer’s solo exhibition SOFTER: Jenny Holzer at
    Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, England, in 2017.


    Jenny Holzer (b. 1950) has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public
    places and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim
    Museums in New York and Bilbao, the Tate Modern, the Whitney Museum of American Art,
    and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Her medium, whether a T-shirt, plaque, or LED sign, is writing,
    and the public dimension is integral to the work. Starting in the 1970s with her New York
    City street posters and continuing through her light projections on landscape and
    architecture, her practice has rivalled ignorance and violence with humour and kindness.

    • Description

      Image: Damian Griffiths

      Condition reports, Lot descriptions and information in respect of Lots included in this Online-Only Auction have been prepared exclusively by Whitechapel Gallery following Whitechapel Gallery’s assessment of the Lots. Phillips and its staff are not responsible in any way for such statements, representations or opinions or for any other information provided in respect of the Lots, whether by Whitechapel Gallery, on Phillips website or in any other form.

    • Provenance

      Donated by the artist and Sprüth Magers, Berlin | London | Los Angeles | New York

    • Exhibited

      Woodstock, Blenheim Palace, Blenheim Art Foundation, SOFTER: Jenny Holzer, 28 September – 31 December 2017

    • Artist Biography

      Jenny Holzer

      American • 1950

      Jenny Holzer is a Conceptual artist best known for her text-based public art projects. Holzer's work speaks of violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death. Throughout the years, Holzer has employed a variety of media, from a T-shirt to a plaque to an LED sign. Starting in the 1970s with the New York City posters, and continuing through her recent light projections on landscape and architecture, she uses her art as a form of communication and commentary. Holzer's art hangs in important collections around the globe including 7 World Trade Center, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

      View More Works



graphite and watercolor on vellum, in artist's frame
unframed 147.3 x 111.8 cm (57 7/8 x 44 in.)
framed 154 x 125.8 cm (60 5/8 x 49 1/2 in.)

Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

£35,000 - 50,000 


Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs

Head of Sale

+44 20 7901 7993

Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Charity Auction

Online Auction 12 - 20 January 2023