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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Open from Tuesday to
Sunday 12 pm → 6 pm

Admission always free
19 Apr 13until16 Jun 13

Nancy Holt

Selected Photo and Film Works

Alvin Balkind Gallery

An abstract black and white image depicting two semi circles of light on a dark background.

Nancy Holt, Light and Shadow Photo-Drawings (detail), 1978. Courtesy the artist and Haunch of Venison, London

Nancy Holt is one of the leading artists of her generation and a pioneer in conceptual site-specific art, and film and video work. She is one of a group of important international artists who initiated the Land Art movement in the late 1960s. The Contemporary Art Gallery brings together a selection of photographs from 1967 onwards, many seen for the first time, alongside pivotal film works.

Holt deals with themes centering on memory, perception, time, and space. She uses the natural environment as both medium and subject with a focus on the cyclical time of the universe, the daily axial rotation of our planet Earth and its annual orbit around the sun. Photography has always played a central role within her work, both as a way of engaging with the landscape and as a way of documenting site-specific projects.

This exhibition includes major photographic pieces, including early work such as Concrete Visions (1967); Trail Markers (1969), an important project made on Dartmoor while visiting the UK with the artist Robert Smithson over forty years ago; a series of photographs entitled Light and Shadow Photo-Drawings (1978); and photographs by Holt of her most famous work, Sun Tunnels (1973–76); among others. Vancouver itself could not be a more appropriate location for this exhibition, the city renowned for its setting within magnificent natural surroundings, the ongoing photographic legacies in picturing within international visual arts practice, and also being the site for the seminal Glue Pour (1970) by Robert Smithson, Holt’s late husband.


Nancy Holt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1938 and currently lives and works in Galisteo, New Mexico. She has received five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two New York Creative Artist Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Holt has produced site-specific environmental works in numerous public places around the world including Sun Tunnels in northwestern Utah, USA; Stone Enclosure (Rock Rings) in Bellingham, USA; Astral Grating in a New York City subway station, and Dark Star Park, in Arlington, USA, among many others. She has also completed large-scale land reclamation projects including Sky Mound (1988) in the New Jersey Meadowlands, and Up and Under (1998) in Nokia, Finland. Holt’s works, including her films and videos, have been seen in exhibitions at major institutions internationally including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; New Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; SFMoMA, San Francisco; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; and Dia Center for the Arts, New York.

In 2010, Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery in New York held the major retrospective exhibition Nancy Holt: Sightlines. It then travelled throughout 2010-13 including Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago; Tufts University Art Gallery at The Aidekman Arts Center, Medford, USA; Santa Fe Arts Institute; and Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The exhibition was accompanied by an extensive monograph of the same name edited by Alena J. Williams.