Barbara Kruger: Conceptual Artist

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  • Topic: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Art museum
  • Pages : 6 (1909 words )
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  • Published : March 8, 2008
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It's the year 1984. As you walk down a crowded New York street, you can't help but stop and stare at the world around you. There's one particular image that stands out to you through. It's a large, black and white poster of a woman looking into a broken mirror. The words "You are not yourself" are written across it in bold cut-out letters. You stop to think to yourself about the possible meanings of this poster. It shows the apparent work of a feminist sowing women's struggle with her own self-image.

Barbara Kruger is an American conceptual artist as well as a transformational leader, states Wikipedia (1). She uses her work to make people think about the serious issues in society today. Her work is in many common places for the view of the public eye. Kruger provokes people with her direct messages and bold images. She has worked in collaboration with other artists as well as galleries and museums. Barbara has also written several books. In her book Remote Control: Power, Culture, and the World of Appearances, she explains how she views art and society. It states that popular culture does not have the ability to do certain things. We must do things for ourselves and not rely on society to do it for us. She has amazing ideas that people should really listen to and take to heart. Society would be better off if we all took a little more time to think about what was going on in the world around us, according to Kruger.

There were many things that happened in Barbara Kruger's early life that led her to where she is today. She was born on January 26, 1945 in Newark, New Jersey. She attended the School of Visual Arts at Syracuse University for one year before moving on to Parson's School of Design in New York. This is where she studied with Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel who introduced her to photography and fashion subcultures. According to Susan Sollins, editor of Art:21, Kruger supported herself by doing graphic design for magazines, book jacket designs, and freelance picture editing (1). After school in 1966, she went to work at a design job at Conde Nast Publications. Barbara worked at Mademoiselle Magazine as an entry-level designer but was quickly promoted to head designer. The Whitney Museum of Art tells how she has worked as a graphic designer, art director, and photo editor in the art departments of House and Garden, Aperture, as well as other periodicals (8). Kruger also has over twelve years of experience as a graphic designer and photo editor. She's worked in numerous fields such as photography, teaching, critical writing, curating, public art projects, and book publishing (7).

In the late 1960's, Barbara Kruger also developed an interest in poetry and attended readings and writings. Her earliest recognizable artworks date back to 1969. She made large woven wall hangings of yarn, beads, sequins, feathers, and ribbons. These pieces show how women brought this type of craft back in this time according to the curators of the Guggenheim Museum (2). In the late 1990's she began to incorporate sculpture into her range of artwork.

Barbara Kruger is internationally renowned for her signature black, white, and red poster-style works of art with instantly identifiable images exploring the dynamics of power identity, sexuality, and representation. The Whitney Museum of American Art quotes Barbara saying, "I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who were are and who we aren't (1)." She conveys direct messages on women's rights and issues of power. She knows how to capture her viewers' attention with her highly recognizable designs. Her style involves cropping of a magazine or newspaper image and then blowing it up in black and white. She then stencils a caption on top of the image. She uses the Futura Bold typeface against black, white, or deep red text bars. The ironic part is that she takes her photographs from various media which usually are trying to sell the very ideas that she is...
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