Nancy Holt’s Sightlines at Graham Foundation

Nancy Holt’s Sightlines at Graham Foundation

Graham Foundation

Nancy Holt, Views Through a Sand Dune, 1972.
Cement-asbestos pipe, sand, Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island.
October 7, 2011

October 7–December 17, 2011

Graham Foundation
for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, IL 60610

This exhibition offers an in-depth look at the early projects of this important American artist whose pioneering work falls at the intersection of art, architecture, and time-based media. Frequently associated with the Land Art movement, since the late 1960s, Nancy Holt has created a far-reaching body of work, including films, videos, site-specific installations, artist’s books, concrete poetry, and major sculpture commissions. Nancy Holt: Sightlines, which includes documentation from more than 40 projects, showcases the artist’s early films, videos, and related pieces from 1966 to 1980, pivotal works which transform how we perceive landscape through the use of different observational modes. Featured in the exhibition are Holt’s film Sun Tunnels (1978), which documents the creation of her well-known site-specific work of the same name, and Pine Barrens (1975), a meditative documentary about a notoriously vast, undeveloped region in central New Jersey. Other highlights in the exhibition include Swamp (1971, in collaboration with Robert Smithson), Locating #2 (1972), Boomerang (1973, in collaboration with Richard Serra), Points of View (1974), a four-monitor installation, and Revolve (1977), alongside materials from early moments in Holt’s career that have been selected from the artist’s archive, which has only recently become available for exhibition and study.

Nancy Holt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1938 and grew up in New Jersey. Shortly after graduating from Tufts University in 1960 with a major in biology, she moved to New York, where she lived and worked until 1995. Currently, she resides in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Nancy Holt: Sightlines was curated by Alena J. Williams. The exhibition and tour were organized by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University in New York. The Chicago presentation is organized by Sarah Herda, Graham Foundation Director, with Ellen Hartwell Alderman, Program Coordinator.

Major support for the exhibition and its programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Graham Foundation provided significant support to both the exhibition and accompanying publication.


Released in April 2011, Nancy Holt: Sightlines (University of California Press) is the first retrospective published on Holt’s trail-blazing 45-year career. Animated by rigorous and lively essays from some of the leading writers on post-1960s artistic practice and exquisitely illustrated, this catalogue charts Holt’s artistic trajectory from her initial experiments with unlikely media—sound, light, and industrial materials—to the culmination of her development of major site interventions and freestanding environmental sculptures. Edited by curator Alena J. Williams, this seminal publication includes contributions from Julie Alderson, Matthew Coolidge, Pamela M. Lee, Lucy R. Lippard, James Meyer, Ines Schaber, and Holt herself. Nancy Holt: Sightlines is made possible by the generous support of the Lannan Art Foundation.


Friday, October 7, 2011, 6–8 PM
Opening reception and with Nancy Holt and curator Alena J. Williams

Saturday, October 8, 2011, 4PM
Panel Discussion, Artist Talk and Book Signing

Panel Discussion:
The panel will consider the wider influence of Land Art since the 1960s and 70s, and new perspectives on Nancy Holt’s interdisciplinary oeuvre through a critical rethinking of how the field has come to be defined.

Panelists include Matthew Coolidge, Founder and Director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), Miwon Kwon, Professor of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Yates McKee, Ph.D. candidate in Art History at Columbia University and Ann Reynolds, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Branden Joseph, The Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Director of Art Humanities at Columbia University in the City of New York, will moderate. Curator Alena J. Williams will provide an introduction.

Artist Talk:
Nancy Holt will present an artist’s talk, which will be followed by a book signing and reception.

Mining the Wasteland: Land Art’s Legacy in Contemporary Art and Politics is co-presented with The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University.

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Deborah Stratman Lecture: Forces and Gazes

For more information about the exhibition and events, or to RSVP please visit:

Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society. The Graham Foundation was created by a bequest from Ernest R. Graham (1866–1936), a prominent Chicago architect who was a protégé of Daniel Burnham.

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Graham Foundation
October 7, 2011

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