Barbara Kruger

(b Newark, NJ, 26 Jan 1945).

American conceptual artist, designer and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse, NY, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (b 1924), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper’s Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger’s interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. In photograph-based images she examined the representation of power via mass-media images, appropriating their iconography and slogans and deconstructing them visually and verbally. Such works as Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece) (photograph, 1.82×1.16 m, 1982; New York, MOMA) exploit an economy of image and text to articulate and undermine the power-based relations established in such media images. Major influences cited by Kruger include films, television and the stereotypical situations of everyday life, and especially her training as a graphic designer. Her messages have been displayed in both galleries and public spaces, as well as on framed and unframed photographs, posters, T-shirts, electronic signboards, billboards and flyposters.

“Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece)” [1982]

Barbara Kruger: Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece), photostat, with support, 1.85×1.19 m, 1982 (New York, Museum of Modern Art, acquired through an anonymous fund); permission courtesy of Mary Boone Gallery, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY.

(from the Grove Encycopedia of Art)

PHOTOGRAPHIC ANALYSES

THEMES

RESPONSES

Barbara Kruger’s Words of Prey by Peter Zimmerman

Barbara Kruger: A Room With a View by Peter Zimmerman