Jac Leirner

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Jac Leirner
Jacqueline Leirner

1961 (age 57–58)
Parent(s)Adolfo Leirner
Fulvia Leirner

Jacqueline "Jac" Leirner, (born 1961) is a Brazilian artist.[1] Leirner is best known for the sculptures and installations she creates from mundane objects and ephemera, including devalued bank notes, used envelopes, promotional tickets, empty cigarette packets and plastic shopping bags.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Leirner was born in São Paulo, Brazil to Fulvia (née Bornstein) Leirner and Adolpho Leirner, modern and contemporary art collectors.[2][3]

Leirner studied visual arts at Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, São Paulo, Brazil, where she graduated in 1984 and taught between 1987 and 1989.[1]


Leirner's work references the history of Brazilian Constructivism and the legacy of Arte Povera and Minimalism. Place and duration related to personal experience are important to her practice.[4] She is often compared to Cildo Meireles, Tunga,[5] and Marcel DuChamp.[6]

Leirner organizes and presents her material in unusually complex ways, highlighting the banality of each object, enabling a refocus of its form, colour and beauty.[7] Her work evolved from drawing and painting around 1981, as a reaction to tonal values of objects in space and the narrative that creates.[4]


Leirner created a work titled To and From (Walker) with the participation of the staff at the Walker Art Center. It is a collection of various sized envelopes connected by polyurethane cord and plexiglass. It was shown at the center from November 3, 1991 - January 26, 1992.[8] In her show Junkie at White Cube Gallery, she showed prints of sculptures she made by carving cocaine crystals juxtaposed with household items.[9] She said that the sculptures were made during four drug binges with three to five grams of cocaine.[10]

She created Untitled (Corpus Delicti) in 1993 with a combination of air-sickness bags, cardboard, and polyurethane cord.[4] The bags come from airlines of different nations. One of her well known areas of work is her sculptures with cruzeiros, the devalued Brazilian currency. She created a collage of 100 and 100,000 bills painted over and put together into a square titled All the One-Hundreds.[11]

Her cigarette pack series Lung was described by Guy Brett as "a startling metaphor" where "the units of mass production" become "the cells of the bodily organ".[6] The packs are deconstructed and compressed into stack.[12]

Other work[edit]

She was a bassist in the punk band UKCT which sparked her to notice the repeating symbols of culture.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Leirner currently lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1993: Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneva
  • 1999: Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo
  • 2004: Miami Art Museum
  • 2011: Centre d’Art de Saint Nazaire, France and the Estação Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo
  • 2012: Yale School of Art (2012)[13]
  • 2014: Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderna, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • 2015: Bem Pensado, Galerie Fortes Vilaca[14]
  • 2017: The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1983: Bienal de São Paulo
  • 1989: Bienal de São Paulo
  • 1990: 44th Venice Biennale[15]
  • 1991: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and Museum of Modern Art, Oxford[16]
  • 1992: dOCUMENTA (IX), Kassel
  • 1993: Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century [2]
  • 1997: 47th Venice Biennale



  1. ^ a b Cultural, Enciclopédia Itaú. "Jac Leirner - Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural". enciclopedia.itaucultural.org.br. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  2. ^ a b c d e P. Biller, Geraldine. Latin American Women Artists 1915-1995. Milwaukee Art Museum.
  3. ^ Puerto, Cecilia (1996). Latin American Women Artists, Kahlo and Look who Else: A Selective, Annotated Bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313289347.
  4. ^ a b c d Zelevansky, Lynn (1994). Sense and Sensibility: Women Artists and Minimalism in the Nineties. The Museum of Modern Art New York. pp. 22–24, 48–51.
  5. ^ "Brazilian artist Tunga Dies at 64". artnet News. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  6. ^ a b c Weinstein, Joel (2005). "Misbehaving in Miami: A Conversation with Jac Lierner". Sculpture 24.
  7. ^ Brett, Guy (1990). Transcontinental: An Investigation of Reality. Verso. ISBN 0860915115.
  8. ^ Art, Walker. "To and From (Walker) — Collections — Walker Art Center". www.walkerart.org. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  9. ^ Cube, White. "Jac Leirner Mason's Yard 2016 | White Cube". whitecube.com. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  10. ^ Dazed (2016-04-21). "The artist who turned her coke binges into sculptures". Dazed. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  11. ^ Roesch, Jac (2008). "Jac Lierner". Art Nexus No 69.
  12. ^ Eccles, Mark (2014). "Reviews". Art News.
  13. ^ "Yale University School of Art: Jac Leirner". art.yale.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  14. ^ Maier, Tobi. "Reviews". Flash Art International.
  15. ^ "PHILLIPS : Jac Leirner". www.phillips.com. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
  16. ^ Art, Walker. "Jac Leirner — Collections — Walker Art Center". www.walkerart.org. Retrieved 2017-03-04.

External links[edit]