Krzysztof Wodiczko; 1988-2000

Our hearts go out to the victims and families of Wednesday’s tragedy in Florida. Out of respect for those affected, and in sensitivity to our public, the Hirshhorn and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko will postpone the planned Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 projection dates to a later time during the run of the exhibition Brand New. New dates will be announced shortly.

“To me, the silence feels most respectful. In this case, not showing the projection shows respect and sensitivity to the people who suffer from this great tragedy,” Wodiczko said.

Footage of the projection will soon be on view in the galleries as part of the exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, alongside Wodiczko’s interventionist sculpture Homeless Vehicle from the same period. (read more)

“…the 30-year-old projection appears to me today strangely familiar and at once unbearably relevant. More than ever before, the meaning of our monuments depends on our active role in turning them into sites of memory and critical evaluation of history as well as places of public discourse and action.”
– Krzysztof Wodiczko

In celebration of the opening of Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present a three-night restaging of Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000, the iconic, large-scale outdoor projection by acclaimed artist Krzysztof Wodiczko (b. Warsaw, Poland, 1943). The work will be shown for the first time since it premiered thirty years ago.

One of the most significant public artworks of the 1980s, the celebrated installation first debuted to DC audiences over three nights in October 1988. Commissioned by the Hirshhorn and created by Wodiczko specifically for its uniquely curved building, the projection debuted as part of the Museum’s “WORKS” program, which ran from 1987–1993 and featured a series of temporary, site-specific exhibitions by artists such as Sol LeWitt, Ann Hamilton, Matt Mullican, and Alfredo Jaar.

The 68-foot projection spans the building’s three stories and features symbolic images that speak powerfully to socio-political issues of both the 1980s and present-day. While referring to such widespread debates as political rhetoric, reproductive rights, and the death penalty, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 also alludes to the power of mass media to convey ideologies.

Wodiczko was at the forefront of a new interest in public art, and his Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 reflected the increased political awareness in the art of the 1980s. Borrowing tactics from film and advertising, Wodiczko used recognizable imagery on a massive scale—body parts, figures, guns, and money—to elicit reactions in his viewers.

A Polish-born American artist, Wodiczko is renowned for his large-scale projections that address such themes as war, conflict, trauma, and memory. By using the façades of buildings and monuments as backdrops for his work, Wodiczko interrogates the construction of collective memory and history while reconsidering the meaning of public space. In a career spanning four decades, he has realized more than 80 of these public projects all around the world. Wodiczko is currently Professor in Residence of Art, Design and the Public Domain at Harvard University.


The Washington Post, Art Off the Wall, 1988: “It’s shocking, but it’s supposed to be.”