Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Preview image of work. offset lithograph on paper,  Inflammatory Essay 37985


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Inflammatory Essay


Jenny Holzer (Gallipolis, OH, 7/29/1950 – )


Inflammatory Essay

Creation Date



20th century


10 in. x 10 in. (25.4 cm. x 25.4 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

offset lithograph on paper

Credit Line

Gift of David P. Becker, Class of 1970


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number


Holzer initially installed these brightly colored posters on Manhattan streets where they would be confronted by unsuspecting pedestrians. Uniform in size, typeface, and word count, the 24 essays in the series (10 of which are shown here) voice provocative positions on a range of topics from the political to the interpersonal. Though each text is written from a different perspective, Holzer is the only author, maintaining variations on aggressive and provocative tone in order to capture the temperature of “hot” topics considered unmentionable or burning questions of the day. She intended “to show how dangerous and absurd it is to be a fanatic, but how important it is to get things done.” Different colors correspond to different ideological voices, which don’t quite cohere into a unified statement.