Artists using Language/Text/Words


image: Jenny Holzer for the MAK exhibition entitled “XX,” 2006 see:

Many artists have used language, textuality or simply words as a basis for work. Here are a few examples:

Fiona Banner: (born 1966) is an English artist, who was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2002. In 2010, she produced new work for a Duveen Hall commission at Tate Britain. She is one of the Young British Artists. Her early work took the form of “wordscapes” or “still films”—blow-by-blow accounts written in her own words of feature films including Point Break (1991) and The Desert (1994). Her work took the form of solid single blocks of text, often the same shape and size as a cinema screen. In 1997, she founded The Vanity Press, through which she published her own works, such as the Nam, The Bastard Word and All The World’s Fighter Planes. The Nam (1997), is a 1,000 page book which describes the plots of six Vietnam films in their entirety: the films are Apocalypse Now, Born On The Fourth of July, The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill and Platoon.

Barbara Kruger: Addressing issues of language and sign, Kruger has often been grouped with such feminist postmodern artists which she was interleaved by Jenny Holzer, Sherrie Levine, Martha Rosler, and Cindy Sherman. Like Holzer and Sherman, in particular, she uses the techniques of mass communication and advertising to explore gender and identity.

John Baldessari born June 17, 1931) is an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. He lives and works in Santa Monica and Venice, California Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s. In 1970 he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. He has created thousands of works that demonstrate—and, in many cases, combine—the narrative potential of images and the associative power of language within the boundaries of the work of art. His art has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe.His work influenced Cindy Sherman, David Salle, and Barbara Kruger among others.

Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950) is an American conceptual artist. Holzer lives and works in Hoosick Falls, New York. Holzer is mostly known for her large-scale public displays that include billboard advertisements, projections on buildings and other architectural structures, as well as illuminated electronic displays. The main focus of her work is the use of words and ideas in public space. Originally utilizing street posters, LED signs became her most visible medium, though her diverse practice incorporates a wide array of media including bronze plaques, painted signs, stone benches and footstools, stickers, T-shirts, paintings, photographs, sound, video, light projection, the Internet, and a Le Mans race car.

Sam Winston“Sam Winston creates sculpture, drawings and books that question our understanding of words both as carriers of messages, and as information itself. His work combines a playful and meticulous assimilation of contemporary information – statistics, data, computer programming – with canonical works such as Shakespeare and the dictionary. He is interested in childhood and story-telling and draws us into the underlying subtexts that often exist beneath what might initially appear as ‘pure’ texts. His work draws upon many approaches and forms, often applying meticulous layers of found text which are reordered through indexical categories. Through drawing, cutting, folding and typography, complex ideas emerge in new work that seems clear, logical and completely necessary amidst the saturation of financial and media text that is around us and often impossible to process.”

Bob and Roberta Smith (Patrick Brill)

Patrick Brill paints slogans in a unique brightly coloured lettering style on banners and discarded boards of wood and exhibits them in galleries of contemporary art across the world. The slogans are usually humorous musing on art, politics, popular culture, Britain and the world in general and they often support his activist campaigns, such as his 2002 amnesty on bad art at Perogi Gallery, New York. A recent example of his gift for merging art & politics was illustrated in the exhibition Peace Camp. Bob & Roberta Smith took part in and curated the show held at The Brick Lane Gallery – the show & programme of events explored artists perceptions on Peace. The exhibition featured over 100 artists including Gavin Turk, Rebecca Taber, Wolfgang Tillmans, Abby Jackson and Seb Patene.


see also:

Cevdet Erek

Alexandra Grant

Richard Long

Leon Ferrari

Sue Blackwell

Isaac Salazar

Mira Schendel

Saul Steinberg

Cy Twombly

Martin Creed

Raqs Media Collective

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