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BARBARA KRUGER. Kruger focuses her attention on social issues which expose myths that surround capitalism, consumerism , the power of the media and sex stereotyping .

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barbara kruger


Kruger focuses her attention on social issues which expose myths that surround capitalism, consumerism, the power of the media and sex stereotyping.

Kruger’s messages are succinct, pungent, confrontational and aimed at hitting quickly with extreme force- just like advertising.

barbara kruger1
Barbara Kruger
  • Born in New Jersey in 1945.
  • Often described as a 'socialcommentator and a political agitator'
  • Worked early in career as a graphic designer, art director and picture editor.
  • Kruger’s artworks appear in museums and galleries on billboards, bus cards, posters, parks, signs, train platforms and various other public places making her work highly accessible to all (not just us art folk).
barbara kruger2
Barbara Kruger
  • Trademark black letters lay against a slash of red background.
  • Instantly recognisable slogans which challenge and test her viewers.
  • Easy to identify with- using relevant issues of contemporary society throughout her works.
  • Hard not to provoke personal and ‘real’ discussions with its audience.
  • Comment on the woman’s role in this work who has been ‘put in place’ by another…
barbara kruger3
Barbara Kruger
  • Confronting, demanding and persuasive text.
  • Gives viewers a sense of promise and/or hope, yet we are not actually told what we are purchasing.
  • Relaying that consumerism and has the power to simply ‘change the world’
  • Kruger installs instant hope within ourselves- till we soon realise that we have just been tricked by a master of her craft.
Comment on how Kruger has used recognisable slogans from our society to provoke both interest and outrage from her audience about gender roles and equality…
  • Kruger layers famous photographs which her audience are often familiar with, with cutting, biting and aggressive text that involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak to.
  • Kruger wishes to change the way society looks at and reads images which are presented to them, Kruger wants us not to take her work just on face value.
  • Do actions speak louder than words???
  • Kruger includes well known slogans to draw in her viewers.
  • Consumerism is present in Kruger’s work as she explores themes of greed, self-indulgence and manipulation.
  • Kruger chooses to use only b+w in the background as she wishes for her text to be seen first-- from this we gain an impression which is then, often changed by the image that follows.

What does this artwork say about

consumerism defining ones’ self??

  • Installations provide their audience with the opportunity to be totally immersed within an artwork.
  • Very confrontational.
  • What does this artwork scream as a first impression??
  • What impact would the use of all walls, strong colours, emotional faces and bold text in this installation have on its audience??
  • What makes an installation more powerful than a 5x7 print??
political controversy
Political Controversy
  • Kruger’s work is often politically based and highly controversial at the time of print.
  • Comment on the use of American President George Bush in this work.

What do you think the words Kruger has included into the image are implying??

  • What is the reference to war??
What impact do these men have upon the culture Kruger depicts in her artworks??
post modern frame
Post Modern Frame
  • 1969 (after pop, op, dada, modern)
  • Includes humour, satire, irony, sarcasm and parody.
  • Appropriation of artworks.
  • Introduction of technology –camera, computers, video, film etc.
  • Change meaning / context of issue, change or concepts.
post modern frame1
Post Modern Frame
  • ‘Since 1969 the Post Modernist's have challenged what they believe to be too certain, too unified and too static.

Post Modernist’s believe it is their jobs to expose these pattern of authority.

They argue that traditional thinking only props up the status quo (the accepted way)’

APPROPRIATION-Use of another’s work in a new context with no intention of altering its meaning / visual impact in a way that both recognises and subverts the authority of the original.

The imitation of someone or something in a way that ridicules or makes fun of them


Work consisting of motifs borrowed from multiple sources often with mixed styles or appropriations from a number of well-known artworks.


Literal meaning is the opposite to the intended meaning, often in a playful or satirical manner.


An act which goes beyond set rules, beyond the limits.

  • Explain how the introduction of technology has helped Kruger make her controversial artworks… also explain how technology has made her compositions more accessible to a greater audience…
  • Kruger was highly influenced by the feminist movement in America.
  • Kruger was regularly fighting for equal rights and opportunities in her confronting compositions.
  • Kruger allowed this image to be displayed on postcards and flags with the added text "Support Abortion, Birth Control, and Women's Rights” during a pro-choice rally in Washington D.C during election month.
  • Kruger wanted to make a political statement about abortion is this work, explain how she has achieved this??
  • What do you think the word ‘battleground’ implies in this context??
gender roles
Gender Roles
  • Marilyn Monroe- the most beautiful woman of all time, thought to be the perfect, ideal woman.
  • Women wanted to be her, men wanted to be with her.
  • Actress- linked to famous men including JFK.
  • Coined the term ‘Blonde Bombshell’
  • What do you think the text is trying to say in this artwork about women and their role in society?
  • Recontextualisation of infamous artwork by Michelangelo.
  • Focusing attention on moment of creation- the touch.
  • Text is placed over the quoted masterpiece, thus obscuring it and dominating it. Kruger parodies the work of Michelangelo by imitating it in a fashion that ridicules its authority, power and extreme beauty.
  • Comment on the use of the words ‘invest – divinity - masterpiece’ in this appropriated artwork..
double meaning
Double Meaning
  • Kruger often exposes us to an aesthetically pleasing image with a hidden under text.
  • Kruger simply does not want to give us the meaning of her work. She wants to challenge us, to provoke interest for us to question her method- Essentially how we translate Kruger’s compositions is up to our own experiences, knowledge and personal interpretation.
  • This composition uses a mirror and one’s reflected image. By looking at the image and text separately explain how this artwork is a obvious contradictory…
homework post modern
Homework - Post Modern
  • Look through newspapers or magazines and find an A4 image which you think has a strong message that you could appropriate. Eg) smoking, drink driving, skin cancer, plastic surgery, cruelty to animals etc.
  • Cut out this image and stick it in your VAPD.
  • Now start brainstorming for original slogans which could single-handedly destroy your images message.
  • Once you have decided on a slogan you must place it upon your A4 image creatively .
  • Once complete you must use some form of technology to hand in your work to your teacher eg) photo, scanned copy, photoshop image etc – be creative and remember- make it humorous. Good Luck…