Artist Research: Barbara Kruger

During conversation with Bobbi, a fellow MA student regarding our current projects, Barbara Kruger’s work was discussed regarding its relevance to my practice. I had seen Barbara Kruger’s work before in galleries, and furthermore had taken influence from her practice, ethos and methods during my A Level’s studying Fine Arts.

However, in regards to my current practice and experimental projects I am undertaken, Kruger’s work resonates with mine on both a theoretical and visual manner in many respects, using copy to stimulate thought, and visuals to contextualise commercial, media and socio-cultural related issues.

I found the Kim Kardashian W cover to be particularly interesting, especially in regards to its execution. Appearing naked as in many of Kim Kardashian’s most famous Instagram shots and magazine covers, her body is covered by Kruger’s red and white slogans hinting at narcissism and self-obsession, which I found interesting as I have referenced and researched both Kim Kardashian and her sibling, Kylie Jenner in regards to my research question, whilst currently producing experimental posters and prints, for example, aimed at a range of the issues noted in Kruger’s works.

  • Power
  • ‘Social life’
  • Virtual worlds (digital age)
  • Media
  • Politics
  • Cultural hierarchies
  • Protest
  • Feminism
  • Critical Theory

I have also bolded any key points below across several quotes, which I feel really contextualise the relationship between Kruger’s works and my current practice/research. In addition, it is noted below that Kruger often used screen printing and photolithography to produce final resolutions of her works. I have already experimented with screen printing, and have evaluated my techniques and processes in a previous post, however feel that photolithography works much better for monochrome photos, and feel both in terms of cost and time digitally printing, or digitally curating my final resolutions may be the best outcome in regards to gaining best visual impact and detail from my works, whilst appealing to the target audiences of my works more appropriately.

I would be interested in recreating some digital pieces of work influenced directly by Kruger, however keeping true to the tone of voice and aesthetic which has already been established whilst experimenting so far, to see how the target audience engage with photographs rather than graphics, for example.

In a virtual world, virtual words are becoming virtually weightless, dematerialized. The more words wash over us, the less we understand them. And the less we are able to recognize which ones are influencing us—manipulating us subtly, invisibly, insidiously. Barbara Kruger rematerializes words, so that we can read them closely, deeply.” (3)

Barbara Kruger addresses media and politics in their native tongue: tabloid, sensational, authoritative, and direct. Kruger’s words and images merge the commercial and art worlds; their critical resonance eviscerates cultural hierarchies — everyone and everything is for sale.”(1)

“I try to deal with the complexities of power and social life, but as far as the visual presentation goes I purposely avoid a high degree of difficulty.” (4)
“Although my art work was heavily informed by my design work on a formal and visual level, as regards meaning and content the two practices parted ways.” (4)

kruger_your_bodyImage Source

“The year 1989 was marked by numerous demonstrations protesting a new wave of antiabortion laws chipping away at the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Untitled (Your body is a battleground) was produced by Kruger for the Women’s March on Washington in support of reproductive freedom. The woman’s face, disembodied, split in positive and negative exposures, and obscured by text, marks a stark divide. This image is simultaneously art and protest. Though its origin is tied to a specific moment, the power of the work lies in the timelessness of its declaration.”(1)

“The work is about…audience and the scrutiny of judgment…fashion and the imperialism of garments, community and the discourse of self-esteem, witnessing and the anointed moment, spectacle and the enveloped viewer, narrative and the gathering of incidents, simultaneity and the elusive now, digitals and the rush of the capture.” There’s much, much more just in case we miss any aspect of what “the work is about.” (3)

(1), Last Accessed: 17th October 2016, Last Accessed: 17th October 2016
(2), Last Accessed: 17th October 2016
(3), Last Accessed: 17th October 2016
(4), Last Accessed: 17th October 2017