News Releases

Hirshhorn To Add Six Leading International Artists to Collection

Acquisitions Include Major Works by Shirin Neshat, Ed Atkins and Krzysztof Wodiczko

November 7, 2016

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Smithsonian’s museum of modern and contemporary art, announces plans to expand its collection with its first works by six leading international artists—Shirin Neshat, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Ed Atkins, Jesper Just, Jacqueline Humphries and Enrico David—and a significant addition to its conceptual works by Joseph Kosuth. The five acquisitions and two gifts demonstrate the Hirshhorn’s commitment to new media and conceptual art and represent some of the most influential global movements of the late 20th and 21st century. Together, they confront critical contemporary issues of poverty, gender, technology and national security.

One of the defining artists of her generation, Shirin Neshat’s (b. 1957; Iranian) mesmerizing images examine power and gender in the Islamic world. “Fervor” (2000) is one of the moving-image works that established her as a master of video installation, and its acquisition follows the Hirshhorn’s 2015 exhibition “Shirin Neshat: Facing History,” the first to place her work in the context of modern-day Iran.

Another groundbreaking work, Wodiczko’s (b. 1943; Polish) “Homeless Vehicle, Variant 5” (1988–89), radically expanded the boundaries of artistic creation and social activism, using his revolutionary theory of Integrated Design to create a functional object that was both a sculpture and a survival shelter for New York City’s rising homeless population.

The newest work in the group, Atkins’ (b. 1982; British) “Safe Conduct” (2016) is an exemplar of post-internet art, an important new focus for the Hirshhorn’s collection inspired by today’s culture of heightened connectivity and information. The three-channel digital video is a burlesque of an airport security instructional video, with carousels of fragmented bodies, faces and metal detectors. Atkins’ work is currently on view in the Hirshhorn exhibition “Suspended Animation” through March 12, 2017.

Adding to the Hirshhorn’s new-media holdings, Heather Podesta’s gifts of Just’s (b. 1974; Danish) highly crafted films “Bliss and Heaven” (2004), “It will all end in tears” (2006) and “Sirens of Chrome” (2009/10) challenge gender stereotypes and resist cinematic conventions.

Two painters represent a newly emerging, rebellious counterculture of contemporary abstract artists. Humphries (b. 1960; American) is one of the leading female painters working today; “O” (2015) is a highlight of her newest body of work, featuring forms found on hand-held digital devices that blur the line between high and low culture. David’s (b. 1966; Italian) peculiar figures reimagine sexuality using contemporary surrealism, and the inherent sensuality of his “Mother Tunnel” (2013) resists categorization.

Kosuth (b. 1945; American) is recognized as one of the key figures in the development of conceptual art, and the Hirshhorn houses a rich collection of his works spanning prints, lithographs and sculpture. A gift of the artist and Sean and Mary Kelly, Sean Kelly Gallery, in honor of Barbara and Aaron Levine, “‘The Paradox of Content #1’ [Green]” (2009) uses Kosuth’s trademark neon text to question the authority of both science and philosophy.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit

# # #

Stills of Fervor, 2000
Artwork © Shirin Neshat

Media only 
Allison Peck
(202) 633-2825

Jennifer Joy 
(212) 202-3402

Media website

Two still images from film "Fervor"