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Artists Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger

American Designer, Graphic Artist, and Photographer

Barbara Kruger Photo
Movements and Styles: Conceptual Art, Feminist Art, Postmodernism

Born: January 26, 1945 - Newark, New Jersey

"Do you know why language manifests itself the way it does in my work? It's because I understand short attention spans."

Summary

Barbara Kruger is best known for her silkscreen prints where she placed a direct and concise caption across the surface of a found photograph. Her prints from the 1980s cleverly encapsulated the era of "Reaganomics" with tongue-in-cheek satire; especially in a work like (Untitled) I shop therefore I am (1987), ironically adopted by the mall generation as their mantra. As Kruger's career progressed, her work expanded to include site-specific installations as well as video and audio works, all the while maintaining a firm basis in social, cultural, and political critique. Since the 1990s, she has also returned to magazine design, incorporating her confrontational phrases and images into a wholly different realm from the art world. Associated with postmodern Feminist art as well as Conceptual art, Kruger combines tactics like appropriation with her characteristic wit and direct commentary in order to communicate with the viewer and encourage the interrogation of contemporary circumstances.

Key Ideas

The economy of Kruger's use of image and text facilitates a direct communication with the viewer. Within a short declarative statement, she synthesizes a critique about society, the economy, politics, gender, and culture.
Kruger merges the slick facade of graphic design with unexpected phrases in order to catch the viewer's attention using the language of contemporary publications, graphic design, or magazines. Rather than attempting to sell a product, her works aim to sell an idea to the viewer that is meant to instigate a reconsideration of one's immediate context.
Kruger appropriates images from their original context in magazines and sets them as the background against which she emblazons confrontational phrases. From her use of clearly legible font to her jarring palette of red, white, and black, each element of the final artwork is crucial to its effectiveness as both an artistic expression and a protest against facets of postmodern life.
Entrance to Kruger Exhibition: Belief + Doubt at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

Recalling “Even when I was a little girl, I remember going to the Museum of Modern Art.. And what I really remember is the design collection,” Kruger’s first artistic inspiration evolved into her bold graphic prints that powerfully confronted social issues.

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