barbara kruger…

I used imagery from some of Kruger’s work in one of my samples, the reason for this is because since I was working on a female mannequin (womannequin) there were a lot of different messages I could’ve put forward, about female equality, the “perfect” female body and how women are perceived, the possibilities for something like this is endless, even though all this topics are of the utmost importance unfortunately this wasn’t what I wanted to base my project on, but it wouldn’t be fair to not mention it at all.

Barbara Kruger 

Born in 1945 she is an American conceptual pop artist, she was born in New Jersey (Newark). From an early age she had an interest in graphic design alongside writing and poetry, she would also attend poetry readings.

She studied at Syracuse for a year and shortly after she moved to New York and began attending Parsons School of Design in 1965. She studied alongside such artists as Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel; they introduced her to other photographers and fashion/magazine sub-cultures. After only staying at Parsons for a year she left to work at Condé Nast Publications (1966). After a short while she started to work at Mademoiselle magazine, there she was an entry-level designer, after about a year she was promoted to head designer.

After that she had several different jobs that fed her interest such as a graphic designer, art director, and picture editor in the art departments at “House and Garden”, “Aperture,” and did magazine layouts, book jacket designs, and freelance picture editing for other publications. Her background in design was and is evident in her work; you can tell that she was heavily influenced by her years working as a graphic designer.

Of course everyone knows that she is a feminist and if they didn’t, the moment they look at her work it becomes clear that she is. Her different professions in life have always affected her work, when she took up photography in 1977, that was when she produced a series of black and white details of architectural exteriors paired with her own textual ruminations on the lives of those living inside. This was published as an artist’s book (Picture/Readings (1979)) this foreshadows the aesthetic vocabulary Kruger developed in her mature work.

Once 1979 came about she stopped taking photographs and began to use found images in her art, most of which came from mid-century American print-media sources, she would collage words directly over them. “Her 1980 untitled piece commonly known as “Perfect” portrays the torso of a woman, hands clasped in prayer, evoking the Virgin Mary, the embodiment of submissive femininity; the word “perfect” is emblazoned along the lower edge of the image.”

Due to the nature of her work and how it included techniques that she had perfected during her time as a graphic designer, she was able to bring up such issues like feminist provocations and commentaries on religion, sex, racial and gender stereotypes, consumerism, corporate greed, and power.

The 80’s was when she perfected her signature “agitprop” style, she used black and white photographic images and would juxtapose them with the text that she added over them which were against black, white, or deep red text bars, the text would be thought provoking and sometimes ironic and was always types in Futura Bold. “The inclusion of personal pronouns in works like Untitled (Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face) (1981) and Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am) (1987) implicates viewers by confounding any clear notion of who is speaking.” these mature works function successfully on any scale, and they had a wide distribution, they were printed on mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, postcards even things like posters and umbrellas.  Something like this causes confusion when talking about the boundaries between something artistic and something commercial, this brings attention to the role of the advertising in public debate.

In the last few years, she has extended her project, creating installations of her work for the public in galleries, museums, municipal buildings, train stations, and parks, as well as on buses and billboards around the world. Walls, floors, and ceilings are covered with images and texts. Since the late 90’s she’s incorporated sculpture into her work when it comes to her critique of modern American culture. Justice (1997), in white-painted fiberglass, depicts J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn—two right-wing public figures who hid their homosexuality—in partial drag, kissing one another. This highlights the conspiracy of silence that enabled these two men to accrue social and political power.

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