Skarstedt London is delighted to announce its forthcoming exhibition of seminal early works by American artist Barbara Kruger. The exhibition features Kruger’s large-scale black and white photographs, overlaid with provocative captions in bold Futura type. This group of works, selected from the 1980s, examines the cultural constructions of power, identity and sexuality through their juxtaposition of text and imagery.
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“In my work I try to question the seemingly natural appearance of images through the textual commentary which accompanies them”.
Presented in the artist’s signature red enamel frames, the works in the exhibition form part of Kruger’s highly recognisable and consistent stylistic practice. Coupled with the bold font, the red frames not only create a strong visual impact against the black and white imagery, more importantly they function as a key element in Kruger’s strategy to challenge the visual language and power structures of consumerist culture. As Kruger affirms:
“These were objects. I wasn’t going to stick them on the walls with pushpins. I wanted them to enter the marketplace because I began to understand that outside the market there is nothing… That’s what the frames were about: how to commodify them. It was the most effective packaging device. Signed, sealed, delivered.”
Drawing on her background in graphic design, Kruger adopts the same visual tools as mass media; the appropriated images and texts acting as both social commentary and political agitator. In today’s digital era, where hierarchies of culture and power are blurred through online and social media, Kruger’s direct address remains highly relevant. Subverting the media’s illusions and aspirations for a modern American culture, Kruger’s ground-breaking works of the 1980s have contributed significantly to the discourse of such themes as Conceptual Art, Semiotics and Feminism, earning her a place among the leading artists of today.
Barbara Kruger was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1945. A recent solo exhibition of her work was held at Modern Art Oxford in 2014. Kruger’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at international institutions including: Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2013; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. in 2012; Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2008; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California in 2005 and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2000. Previous public projects include façade banners, tube posters, billboards and bus wraps for Selfridges Department Stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham in 2003. In 2005 Kruger was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime achievement at the Venice Biennale.