Holt’s ‘California Sun Signs’ at Fraenkel Gallery

Nancy Holt’s 1972 photographic series California Sun Signs features in the group exhibition Another West at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco on show from September 5 though October 19, 2019.

California Sun Signs comprises nineteen inkjet prints on archival rag paper, printed from original 126 format transparencies – a detail of a bullet-peppered sign is seen above. Collected on Holt’s route to the Mojave Desert in 1972, the signs range from a school to a restaurant, a liquor store, and a street sign. From sundae to sundial, and sunset to sunray, this series, all shot in vibrant color, collects the many ways the motif of the sun has been used in signage.

Another West is curated by Richard Misrach, who has been photographing the American West for more than 50 years, and is perhaps best known for his ongoing series Desert Cantos. The exhibition surveys contemporary approaches to the Western United States landscape – which Misrach describes as “eleven different Wests. From Nancy Holt’s 1972 color series California Sun Signs, to Lewis deSoto’s performance-driven long exposures, to Mishka Henner’s appropriated and digitally-composited satellite images of oil derricks, these artists employ photographic strategies and technologies unimaginable in Watkins’s era of the black-and-white mammoth plate. Most significantly, these artists of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries call our attention to what the West has become.”

Nancy Holt, California Sun Signs [detail illustrated above]
From a series of nineteen inkjet prints on archival rag paper
Printed from original 126 format transparencies in 2012
Each 15 x 15 in.

© Holt/Smithson Foundation, licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

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Visiting earthworks by Holt and Smithson

Earthworks and public sculpture by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson are located in both the United States and in Europe. Some visits require advance booking as the artworks are sited on private land. In these cases appointments are essential.

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