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26 Sep

Evoke or provoke? – Barbara Kruger

Evoke or provoke? – Barbara Kruger

Thanks God I am an artist and not a movie or TikTok star” – says Barbara Kruger, the most influential artist working today.

77 years old lady became very popular with her photomontages with combinations of mass-media black and white layered images and declarative captions with direct feminist cultural critique.

In the 70’s Barbara Ktuger was an artist who explored the power of image and text.

“Direct address has been a consistent tactic in my work, regardless of the medium that I’m working in.”

Yes, Mrs. Kruger is so direct in expressing her views about consumerism, religion, feminism, desire, sex and gender stereotypes.

Is Barbara Kruger provocative?

Mark Bradford and artist Barbara Kruger attend the 2015 MOCA Gala presented by Louis Vuitton at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on May 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage for The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles / Getty Images /

The answer is yes – if provocative means something that evoke an anxiety and curiosity by the audience.

How does it look like as an art?

Cropping of the enlarged in monumental sizes of newspaper or magazine in black and white.

A message is put on the image with white letters on the red background.

So simple but so expressive.

“I mean, making art is about objectifying your experience of the world, transforming the flow of moments into something visual, or textual, or musical, whatever. Art creates a kind of commentary.

Her magic in art is in the short phrases inserted not only in text and photographs but in the video and audio, curated exhibitions, design objects, billboards or intervention in the architecture

Barbara’s highlight and recognizable phrases are

“Your body is a battleground”

which features a woman’s face made into a grotesque-looking mask by slicing it in half and rendering one side as a negative o

“I shop therefore I am”

The latest one  was borrowed from the French philosopher Rene Descartes “I think Therefore I am” .


A museum visitor photographs a photographic silkscreen print by Barbara Kruger titled ‘I Shop Therefore I Am’ at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

“I’d always been a news junkie, always read lots of newspapers and watched the Sunday morning news shows on TV and felt strongly about issues of power, control, sexuality and race.”

In news Barbara Kruger finds a lot of things saturated with irony and as Elizabeth Bibesco says “irony is the hygiene of the mind”.

Irony could be seen in the four fibreglass statues “Justice” of American lawyer Roy Cohn wearing hills and draped in the American flag while kissing J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In fact both of them hid their homosexuality and Kruger shows the kitsch of the case of two powerful men.

“Look, we’re all saddled with things that make us better or worse.

This world is a crazy place, and I’ve chosen to make my work about that insanity.”

A view shows ‘Untitled’ by artist Barbara Kruger at the Corderie of Arsenale during the 59th International Art Exhibition (Biennale Arte) on May 10, 2022 in Venice, Italy. The 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice will open to the public from April 23th to November 27th / Getty Images /

In 2016, Kruger debuted a wall painting

“Untitled ( Blind Idealism is…)”over the High Line in New York and one year later she showed “Untitled (Skate)” at Coleman Skatepark on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which asks the questions:

“Whose hopes?,” “Whose fears?,” “Whose values?,

“Whose justice,” and other messages.

Kruger’s latest works draw attention to systems of power and existential boundaries.

For the 2020 edition of Frieze Los Angeles, the artist presented a series of 20 questions

—including “Who do you think you are?” and Who dies first? Who laughs last?

displayed across public spaces throughout the city.

“I think there are lots of ways to make good work. You can throw big bucks at a project and make what some would call crap, or you can work very modestly with eloquently moving results.” 

Read more interesting articles here.