Friday, December 4, 2009
Untitled (I shop therefore I am), 1987
Photographic silkscreen/vinyl 111" by 113"
Untitled (You Construct Intricate Rituals Which Allow You to Touch the Skin of Other Men), 1983
Untitled (Questions), 1991
66 x 93 in. (167.6 x 236.2 cm.)
Barbara Kruger was born in New Jersey on January 26, 1945. She attended Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design. Kruger worked as the head designer of Mademoiselle magazine and did graphic design for many different medias. Kruger is renowned today for her graphic artwork in which she layers photos and images with "aggressive" and controversial text. Her trademark white or black block-letter font over a loud red background stuns the viewer and captivates them, forcing them to think a little big longer about her pieces. Some of her more popular "slogans" displayed in her pieces are, "I shop therefore I am" or "You construct intricate rituals which allow you to touch the skin of other men". These simple phrases electrified by black and white images of American Pop-culture and consumerism make controversial and bold statements. Her texts force the American public to question the ideals of feminism, culture, consumerism, innocence, violence, the media, desire, and mainstream Americanism itself: the American Dream. Her work stands as a commentary on these ideals in the world and society.
"I think I developed language skills to deal with threat. It's the girl thing to do-you know, instead of pulling out a gun." - Barbara Kruger
Perhaps this "threat" is the threat of the society in which these ideals are being exploited inappropriately. Kruger's language skills function to bring society back to reality from where we have come in our overzealous desire and consumerism to question our actions and ultimately, ourselves.
Her art has been displayed in many famous museums, on billboards and is very well-known in popular culture today. She has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Art, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
I chose Barbara Kruger because I think her work is stunning, interesting, and important. Her techniques and style are so simple but electrifying to the viewer and the viewer's conscience while keeping the viewer's dignity intact. She does not shame us but rather opens our eyes in ways that we cannot do on our own. She reminds us of reality in pieces that read, "You are not yourself", "Don't be a jerk". And it is like the one that reads, "Seeing through you". Barbara Kruger sees through to the core of the American Public in a bold and invigorating way.