Upcoming Exhibition: Nancy Holt "Mirrors of Light" at Sprüth Magers, Berlin

November 26, 2021–February 5, 2022

Sprüth Magers, Berlin

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to announce Nancy Holt’s (1938– 2014) first solo exhibition at the Berlin gallery. Mirrors of Light presents the room-scale installation with the same title, a work from 1973 that is crucial to understanding Holt’s notion of perceptual experience. Holt’s practice navigates the complexities of light as artistic medium, physical reality, and aesthetic concept. It is an architectonic structure that channels projected light into a complex spatial experience.

Mirrors of Light I was featured at Bykert Gallery in New York in 1973.  Holt revisited this concept in Mirrors of Light II at Walter Kelly Gallery in Chicago the following year. Mirrors of Light I consists of ten circular mirrors, each 24 cm in diameter, mounted in a diagonal line on the wall. A spotlight installed on an adjacent wall points directly at them, causing the refracted light to appear as an inverted diagonal of fragmented ellipses in the gallery space. The result is an experience of doubling, as some of the projected light circles appear again as a re-reflection in the mirrors—as does one’s own reflected image. Like so many of Holt’s works, the installation enables a changed awareness of the body in space. The participatory aspect is key, as the artist emphasized in a 1980 interview published in Artforum magazine: “A perceptual structure is built into the sculpture. The work can be seen only in durational time—the time it takes to see it from many points of view.”

After first engaging visual perception with her telescope-like Locator sculptures, Holt set about constructing specific, situational conditions that foregrounded the influence of light on spatial awareness. While Mirrors of Light I plays with the proliferation of light reflected in circular mirrors, Holes of Light (1973) explores the materiality of shadow using light projected through circular-shaped holes in a central partition wall. Just as the artist was realizing these two works, she was also translating their concepts to the landscape with her iconic Sun Tunnels (1973–76) in the Great Basin Desert, Utah. The circle is a recurring shape in Holt’s oeuvre, who used it to both direct the gaze and to evoke the continuous movement of celestial bodies.

Nancy Holt (1938–2014) is among the most important figures of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements. A pioneer of site-specific installation and the moving image, Holt redefined the limits of art. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. Over five decades, she questioned how we might understand our place in the world, examining sites, systems, and perception. Holt’s rich artistic output includes concrete poetry, audio works, film and video, photography, slides, ephemeral gestures, drawings, room-sized installations, artist books, and public sculptures. 

The exhibition Nancy Holt: Inside/Outside opens June 2022 at Bildmuseet in Umeå, Sweden, followed by Nancy Holt: Locating Perception, a solo presentation at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles in September 2022. Other solo exhibitions in 2021/22 include those at the campus galleries of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Western Washington University, both sites of her public sculptures.

This exhibition is supported by NEUSTART KULTUR, Deutscher Verband für Archäologie and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Nancy Holt Mirrors of Light II, 1974

Walter Kelly Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA

10 mirrors, diameter 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)

650 watt quartz light 

Photograph: John R. Bayalis

©Holt/Smithson Foundation, Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Archived News

"Nancy Holt / Inside Outside" at Bildmuseet

We are very pleased to announce the exhibition Nancy Holt / Inside Outside launches this June, produced by Bildmuseet, one of Sweden’s foremost contemporary art venues. The exhibition explores the artist’s rich artistic legacy through a selection of works spanning 1967 to 1992. This is the most ambitious exhibition of her work to date. Perceptions and demarcations of being "inside" and "outside" guide this survey exhibition.

Robert Smithson works in "The Power of Wonder" at Museum unter Tage in Bochum, Germany

Works by Robert Smithson will be included in the group exhibition The Power of Wonder: New Materialisms in Contemporary Art at Museum unter Tage in Bochum, Germany. 

Two artworks that Robert Smithson originally made during his time in Germany in 1969 will be on view in the exhibition: Mirror Displacement: Indoors (1969) and Essen Earth  and Mirrors (for Bernd and Hilla Becher) (1969).

"Second Site" by James Nisbet

Author and art historian James Nisbet has recently written a new book titled Second Site, which explores "how environmental change and the passage of time transform the meaning of site-specific art." Second Site examines the effect of changing conditions on a number of site-specific artworks, including both Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels (1973-76) and Robert Smithson's 

Discussions On "Sound As Sculpture"

A significant selection of audio works by Nancy Holt are currently on view in the group exhibition Sound as Sculpture at The Warehouse Dallas

The Warehouse is hosting a series of discussions on the exhibition Sound As Sculpture, including one upcoming discussion on Nancy Holt's sound works with Lisa Le Feuvre and James Nisbet this Friday, March 18.

Tuesday Texts: Chapter Three

We are delighted to announce that throughout February we will be publishing a third chapter of our Tuesday Text Series as part of our ongoing Scholarly Text Program, which invites thinkers to focus on a single artwork by Holt and/or Smithson.

Every Tuesday we will publish a text to our website that includes images selected by the author, a short bibliography, citation reference, and endnotes pointing to the author’s references.