Whitney Museum of American Art

photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto

New York, NY




Barbara Kruger


"I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren't"

- Barbara Kruger


From July 13 through October 22, 2000, the bold work of Barbara Kruger will be presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, providing a look at one of the most compelling artistic careers of the past two decades. Kruger's instantly identifiable images, exploring the dynamics of power, identity, sexuality and representation, have helped shape a generation of artists. The artist's first major museum retrospective, "Barbara Kruger" was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), where it debuted in October 1999. (left: Power Pleasure Desire Disgust, 1997, multimedia installation Deitch Projects, New York)

Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Whitney Museum, commented, "it is especially timely that we are hosting the Barbara Kruger exhibition at the Whitney, where Kruger's work was shown as early as the 1973 Biennial. Kruger's powerful juxtapositions of pictures and words have had a profound influence on other artists and on the way we see the world." (left: Barbara Kruger, October 17, 1989 - February 13, 2000, MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary, Photo by Brian Ferrest)

The presentation of "Barbara Kruger" at the Whitney features approximately 60 works selected from the original MOCA exhibition that was organized by MOCA curator Ann Goldstein in a dynamic installation designed in close collaboration with the artist. The exhibition includes selections from Kruger's photographic prints on paper and vinyl; etched metal plates; audio, video, installation, and sculpture works; sign-painted texts; billboards; and new work made especially for the exhibition.

Kruger's work addresses the cultural representations of power, identity and sexuality, and challenges the spectacles of stereotypes and cliches. Since 1980, her work with pictures and words has developed into a highly recognizable, consistent visual language. In her iconic photo/text montages, the artist juxtaposes striking images with equally striking phrases like "Your body is a battleground," "We have received orders not to move," and "I shop therefore I am." (left: Unitiled (Not ugly enough), 1997, photographic silkscreen on vinyl, 109 x 109 inches, Collection of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo)

With a background as a graphic designer at Mademoiselle and House and Garden, the artist is best known for her provocative black and white photographic images, banded with red stripes of text bearing bold messages, delivered in her trademark Futura Bold Italic. These signature images, produced in the 1980s, consistently raise questions about values, taste, and the material world.

The exhibition includes documentation and representations of Kruger's public commissions, billboards, posters, media shelters, magazine and book covers, op-ed pieces from newspapers, as well as a selection of consumer products designed by the artist. Among the works to be exhibited are Untitled (We have received orders not to move), 1982; Untitled (I shop therefore I am), 1987; and Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989. (left: Barbara Kruger, October 17, 1989 - February 13, 2000, MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary, Photo by Brian Ferrest)

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1945, Kruger studied at Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design. Kruger has worked in a number of fields, including photography, teaching, critical writing, curating, public art projects, and book publishing. Her work has appeared throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan in galleries, newspapers, magazines, and museums, as well as on billboards, matchbooks, TV programs, t-shirts, postcards and shopping bags. Her major commissions include the park and outdoor amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC; a train station in Strasbourg, France; and floor mosaics for the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She has written about television, film and culture for Artforum, Esquire, The New York Times, and The Village Voice. Kruger lives in New York and Los Angeles.

Kruger has been commissioned to design covers for numerous magazines, from Esquire and Newsweek to The New York Times Book Review. She has also created posters on subjects ranging from reproductive rights to a short film by Jonathan Demme and the backdrop for the Rage Against the Machine 1997 tour. Most recently, she has made life-size white fiberglass statues. Her work is represented in many major museum collections, including The Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; St. Louis Art Museum; Milwaukee Art Museum; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. (left: Untitled (Your Body Is a Battle Ground), 1989, photographic silkscreen on vinyl, 112 x 112 inches, The Broad Art Fouundation, Santa Monica, CA)

A major 268-page catalogue accompanies the show and is the first book to provide a critical overview of Kruger's career from multiple perspectives. The publication features essays by Rosalyn Deutsche, art historian and critic; Katherine Dieckmann, New York-based writer-director; MOCA curator Ann Goldstein; Steven Heller, editor of the American Institute of Graphic Arts Journal of Graphic Design and chair of the MFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts, New York; Gary Indiana, novelist and writer; and Carol Squiers, art critic and writer; in addition to a discussion with the artist and New York-based novelist and critic Lynne Tillman.

rev. 8/7/00

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/2/11

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