Barbara Kruger is a feminist postmodern American conceptual artist and collagist and a part of the Pictures Generation. She is internationally known for her large-scale and immersive image, text, and video installations that address provocative social, cultural and political issues.
Kruger’s hallmark graphic style consists of white Futura type on usually a red or a black field. She studied art and design with Diane Arbus at the Parsons School of Design in New York and went on to become a designer and photo editor at various Conde Nast Publications.
In 1969, inspired by the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Kruger created a large wall hanging, consisting of different materials, which was included in the 1973 Whitney Biennial.
In the late 1970s, Kruger created photographs which combined glossy photos from old advertisements with easily readable texts to undermine the media by using its own devices. However, sometimes the texts seemed to contradict the image shown, as in her 1983 “We Won’t Play Nature to Your Culture,” where the words are strong but the picture is one of weakness, showing a woman lying passively on the ground with her eyes covered by leaves.
Her “Untitled (“Your Body Is a Battleground”) 1989 is a photographic silkscreen on vinyl which unites word and image to resemble commercial billboards. In the 1980s, she switched to collage. Her work always calls attention to controversial issues for women. In 2005, she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale with her text-facade on a 1932 building, an emblem of Italy’s fascist rule.
In her 2014-2015 Getty installation, “‘Whose Values,” Kruger worked with 400 high school students, teachers, and members of the Getty staff. They engaged in an extensive series of discussions, writing projects, and other collaborative activities to investigate core themes of social justice, identity, race, gender, and advocacy.
Kruger’s printed commands can now be seen on the outside of the LAXART building, an independent nonprofit venue on Santa Monica Boulevard. Her mostly black uppercase letting is painted on solid white, black, or green backdrops, making her message against authoritarianism impossible to ignore.