Jac Leirner was born in 1961 in São Paulo, where she lives and works. In 1984, she received her BFA in Fine Arts from the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, in São Paulo.
The artist was awarded numerous grants and residencies, among them: 2012 APCA Award: Best Exhibition of the Year – Estação Pinacoteca, São Paulo; 2012 artist in residence at the Yale University School of Art; 2001 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; 1998 visiting artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam; 1991 visiting artist at the University College, Oxford; 1991 visiting artist at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts, University of Oxford; 1991 artist in residency at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the 1991 artist in residency at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Jac Leirner is best known for her series of works employing specific everyday materials, such as bank notes, cigarette packaging, airline paraphernalia, business cards, and more recently items purchased in hardware stores. Her conceptually rigorous and formally beautiful works draw on a wide array of art historical and formal influences, as well as embracing the transgressive legacies of Dada, Constructivism, Pop and Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, and Punk, among others.
Selected solo exhibitions include: 2019 Wolfgang Hahn Prize, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2019); Jac Leirner: Add It Up, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2017); Institutional Ghost, IMMA Dublin (2017); Borders are Drawn by Hand, MoCa Pavilion, Shanghai (2016); Jac Leirner. Functions of a variable, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2014); Jac Leirner: Pesos y Medidas, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canária (2014), Jac Leirner, Hardware Silk, Edgewood Avenue Gallery, Yale University School of Art, New Haven (2011); Jac Leirner, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo (2011); Adhesive 44, Miami Art Museum, Miami (2004); Projeto Parede, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo (1999); Directions, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (1992); Currents, ICA, Boston, (1991), and Viewpoints, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1991).
Jac Leirner participated in numerous group exhibitions, including: A máquina do mundo: Arte e indústria no Brasil 1901 – 2021, Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo (2021); Momentum, Voorlinden Museum, Wassenaar (2020); Portadores de sentido – Contemporary Art from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico (2019); Comfortably Numb: A Critical Investigation into the Cultural Impact of Drugs and Narcotics, ANOTHER SPACE, New York (2018); Between Object and Architecture, Tate Modern, London (2016); Clube de Gravura – 30 Anos, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo (2016); The past, the present, the possible, Sharjah Biennial 12 (2015); Brazil: Arbeit und Freundschaft, Pivô, São Paulo (2014); This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2011); Here is Every. Four Decades of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009), and the 5th Mercosur Biennial, Porto Alegre (2005).
Her work is held in the collections of: Art Gallery of Ontario, Ontario; Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin; Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Culturgest, Lisbon; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago de Compostela; Coleção Cisneros, Caracas; Colorado University Art Museum, Boulder; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculputure Garden, Washington D.C.; Instituto Itaú Cultural, São Paulo; MOCA | The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; MAM–Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Ghent; The National Museum of Art, Osaka; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Städtische Galerie Villa Zanders, Bergisch Gladbach; Tate, London; The Bohen Foundation, New York; University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art, Essex; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.