American artist, Barbara Kruger will present a major new exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, in June. Her recognisable work combines bold lettering, colours and dramatic juxtapositions of text and image, to investigate the machinations of power in popular culture today. The exhibition will comprise a site-specific architectural wrap of Modern Art Oxford’s iconic Upper gallery, alongside an installation of classic 1980s paste-up works and a major film presentation in the John Piper Gallery.
Through ironic appropriation of specific slogans and imagery, Kruger deploys the visual strategies of mass media in order to challenge the often manipulative logic at work in the language of advertising, television and other media. Kruger’s use of both declarative statements and what she terms ‘direct address’, is a consistent tactic throughout her work. This form of communication is utilised not only to grab the attention but also to involve the viewer in the work’s content, which confronts familiar social and cultural orthodoxies around gender relations, consumerism, individual autonomy and desire.
This is most evident in Kruger’s careful skewing of familiar idioms to generate aphorisms, which range from the metaphysical to more overtly political statements. Among her most famous works are I shop, therefore I am (1987) and Your body is a battleground (1985). The artist has described her interest in popular culture, citing influences such as film, magazines and reality television as a useful measure of contemporary conceptions of value and materialism.
Barbara Kruger’s career has spanned over 30 years. Known universally for her iconic piece, I Shop Therefore I Am her work included in all major collections of contemporary art throughout the world. She was awarded the Life Time Achievement Medal at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Born in Newark (1945) she now lives in New York and Los Angeles. After attending the School of Visual Arts at Syracuse University, she went on to study Art and Design with Diane Arbus at Parson’s School of Design in New York.
Barbara Kruger’s iconic red and black text and image works, where fragments of images are overlaid with short phrases or captions, owe much to her early career in graphic design and art direction at Conde Nast Publications, in particular the leading fashion title Mademoiselle magazine where she was promoted to lead designer. Addressing issues of language and sign, Kruger has often been grouped with such feminist postmodern artists which she was interleaved by Jenny Holzer, Sherrie Levine, Martha Rosler, and Cindy Sherman. Like Holzer and Sherman, in particular, she uses the techniques of mass communication and advertising to explore gender and identity. Kruger is considered to be part of the Pictures Generation – the formal labeling of a group of artists and their appropriation of images from the consumer and media saturated age.
Top Photo: Barbara Kruger ‘Belief and Doubt, 2012’ Hirshhorn Museum (Lower Level Lobby) © Barbara Kruger Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London
Photo 2 : P C Robinson © Artlyst 2013
Barbara Kruger – Modern Art Oxford: Exhibition Dates: Saturday 28 June – Sunday 31 August 2014 Press Preview: Friday 27 June, 1pm Main Preview: Friday 27 June, 6.30pm – 8.30pm