Review – Barbara Kruger

Barbera Kruger (1945)

Kruger, B; 1982; We Have Recieved Orders Not To Move [photograph and screen print]Fig. 1. We Have Received Orders Not To Move (1982)

Kruger, B; 2014; Untitled (Hello Goodbye)Fig. 2. Untitled (Hello/Goodbye) (2014)

My current research is in relation to exercise 3.5 Photographs from text and the coursework suggests looking at Kruger’s montages.

Initial Thoughts

Plain, unappealing, dull, text is prominent, text works well in first image which carries feminist political content. What is the female gaze? Second image appears like an advert in an underground station or maybe street art, questions identity and the gaze in general (we see the world how we want to see it, rather than how it is and because of this we lose track of who we are, and others view us through their looking-glass, hence we too become the unseen.

In relation to Photographs from text

Neither of these are photographs in their original format, but are relevant to one of my approaches. I intend to complete the exercise in two ways, one will be using a poem next to photos that I have taken, and the other will be a montage in the style of Gerhard Richter, using appropriated images from newspapers, including some of its accompanying text, and following the same poem, which may or may not be printed or written alongside it. Kruger uses appropriated images in many of her montage’s and employs the silk screen printing process to overlay the text. Her text in general is quite large, but with brief sentences.

My reason for choosing We have received orders not to move was purely because it reminded me of a thread based craft that my sister used to do. She would stick pins into a pre-marked board, and then follow a design to tie thread around the pins, which then created a pattern.

Kruger is a politically motivated artist, and her work is often based around the theme of the dominance of men, especially white men, and how the media promotes stereotypes. Although it has been written that she was influenced by Dianne Arbus I do not see that in these images at all, rather I can see her background working with an advertising agency coming through strongly. Often her art makes use of appropriated magazine advertising, which she then overlays with text of her choice. Generally the montages that she creates are simple and eye-catching, and they have been created this way to be impactful. They are also vernacular because they make use of the style of images and presentation that people are used to from reading magazines and newspapers. Using popular and current images to appeal to the populace was a successful technique that the Lever Brothers used to mass market pre-weighed soap. They would purchase modern works of art that appealed to the wider audience, and then place their logo into the paintings as seen in figure 3.

Relating to the first image Fabienne Dumont says “This work consists in enlarging advertising images taken from magazines, applying them to large banners, and adding a slogan explicitly directed at the public and questioning white male authority and the stereotypes spread by the media.” (Dumont, F; 2013).

Untitled (Hello/Goodbye) is a photo of a small section of an installation in which most of the wall space is covered with large vinyls that contain black and white text, with the occasion words in red ink. “Her texts often employ personal pronouns, which incorpo­rate the spectator into the discursive and graphic space: “I shop therefore I am.” “You invest in the divinity of the masterpiece.” References for these pronouns remain intentionally nonspecific, opening up a space of identification and disiden­tification.” (Erikson, R; 2017)

Sunlight Soap, Lever Brothers cFig. 3. Sunlight Soap (c1886)

Illustrations

Figure 1; Kruger, B; 1982; We Have received Orders Not To Move [photograph and screen print]; AT: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Figure 2; Kruger, B; 2014; Untitled (Hello Goodbye) [installation – Digital print on vinyl] at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; AT: https://hammer.ucla.edu/take-it-or-leave-it/artists/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Figure 3; Lever Borthers; (c1886); Sunlight Soap; Online AT: https://www.baytree-interiors.co.uk/item/sunlight-soap/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

References

Dumont, F; 2013; Barbara Kruger; Online AT: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Erikson, R; 2017; Barbara Kruger, Born 1945, Newark, New Jersey; Online AT: https://hammer.ucla.edu/take-it-or-leave-it/artists/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Wolf, J; 2018; Barbara Kruger, American Designer, Graphic Artist, and Photographer; Online AT: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kruger-barbara.htm (accessed on 12/05/2018)

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