Andy Holden (artist)

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Andy Holden (born 1982 in Blunham, Bedfordshire, England)[1] is an artist whose work includes sculpture, large installations, painting, music, performance, animation and multi-screen videos.

He came to national attention with his exhibition 'Art Now: Andy Holden'[2] (2010) at TATE Britain, for which he exhibited ‘Pyramid Piece’, an enormous knitted boulder based on piece of pyramid which he stole from the great pyramid of Giza as a boy, and then later returned.[3]

Subsequent solo exhibitions of his work include 'Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time' (2011) at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, which featured “The Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time”, a library of books and a display of sculptures dedicated to his friend and collaborator Dan Cox who died in an accident just before the exhibition was due to open. This was followed by 'Cookham Erratics'[4] at the Benaki Museum in Athens (2012), which was a series of knitted rocks containing hidden speakers that told a fragmented narrative. Holden’s work ‘Eyes in Space’ was included in Mark Leckey's 2013 touring show ‘Universal Addressability of Dumb Things’.[5]

Holden was a founding member of a small, Bedford-based art-movement MI!MS (Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity), which was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection[6] and Spike Island in 2013 and 2014. This groups manifesto, written in 2003, which called for a coupling of irony and sincerity, has been noted as a precursor to ‘metamodernism’.[7] Holden’s later output has similarly often been described as balancing an ironic sensibility with a deep sincerity, underwritten by an often personal narrative. Holden often appears in the work in as a version of himself, promoting psychoanalyst Darian Leader to write in an essay in Frieze Magazine that the artist “is inside and outside of the picture at the same time”.[8]

From 2011 until 2017 Holden worked on Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, described by The Art Newspaper as an “epic and widely acclaimed masterpiece”.[9] The work is an hour-long animated film, narrated by the artist as a cartoon character, in which the world is declared to have become a cartoon, and cartoon physics is used as a way of understanding the world.[10] Cartoons features heavily in Holden’s work, and in 2018 he was included in the exhibition Good Grief, Charlie Brown,[11] at Somerset House which examined the legacy of Peanuts.

In 2017 Holden collaborated with his father the ornithologist Peter Holden on the exhibition Natural Selection, commissioned by Artangel.[12][13] The exhibition explored the sculptural properties of birds nests and the history of oology in Britain, as well as themes of parental influence, ideas of nature and nurture. The exhibition was given a five-star review by The Observer[14] and subsequently toured to Leeds Art Gallery, Bristol Museum, Towner Gallery in Eastbourne and four venues in Scotland and subsequently the films were acquired by the Tate Collection,[15] Bristol Museum and Leeds Art Gallery. The book accompanying the exhibition includes an essay by nature writer Helen MacDonald.

Holden occasionally works in other genres and explores the overlaps of art into other areas. He has released a number of records with his band, The Grubby Mitts],[16] which were played on BBC 6Music.[17] In 2012, Holden adapted David Foster Wallace’sBrief Interviews with Hideous Men’ for stage, performed at the ICA,[18] in London. In 2020 Holden curated the first retrospective of the artwork of acclaimed alternative comedian Simon Munnery.[19] Holden previously curated the first edition (2010) of Wysing Art Centre’s annual music festival, focussing on artist’s music projects.[20]


  1. ^ "Andy Holden | Backstory". Archived from the original on 19 February 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  2. ^ Tate. "Art Now: Andy Holden – Exhibition at Tate Britain". Tate. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Artist Andy Holden makes a marvellous mountain out of a misdemeanour | Jonathan Jones". The Guardian. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Artists in a dialogue with the Benaki Museum Andy Holden. The Cookham Erratics - Benaki Museum". (in Greek). Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  5. ^, dandelion & burdock. "The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things: Curated by Mark Leckey". thisistomorrow. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  6. ^ Collection, Zabludowicz. "Andy Holden: Maximum Irony, Maximum Sincerity 1999-2003: Towards a Unified Theory of MI!MS - Exhibitions". Zabludowicz Collection. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  7. ^ Morgan, Elinor. "Andy Holden's Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity". Notes on Metamodernism. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Laws of Motion | Frieze". Frieze. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Andy Holden: friends, family and the Cartoon Laws of Motion at London's Cinema Museum". Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Holden, Andy | Arts Council Collection". Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Somerset House, review: the power of Peanuts". 26 October 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Natural Selection". Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Himali Singh Soin on Andy Holden and Peter Holden". Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Andy Holden & Peter Holden: Natural Selection review – artfulness is egg-shaped". The Guardian. 10 September 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  15. ^ Tate. "Andy Holden born 1982". Tate. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Album Review: The Grubby Mitts - What the World Needs Now Is". DrownedInSound. Archived from the original on 17 June 2021. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  17. ^ @bbc6musicbot (15 August 2015). "Now Playing The Grubby Mitts - Music Of Exhaustion #thegrubbymitts" (Tweet). Retrieved 22 August 2020 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  19. ^ Judah, Hettie (16 July 2020). "Farty paintings and getting sozzled on gin: a seriously silly history of art and comedy colliding". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Annual Music Festival Archive – Wysing Arts Centre".

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