Barbara Kruger

Year of birth, place
1945, Newark
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
Barbara Kruger was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1945. In 1965 she embarked on studies at Syracuse Universitiy, New York State, but transferred in 1966 to Parsons School of Design in New York City. During the 1960s and 1970s she worked as a graphic designer for the American fashion magazine »Mademoiselle«. In 1980 she was awarded a PS1 (Project Studio One) grant. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

In 1972 Barbara Kruger started to produce the montages of text and photographic images from advertisment. She employs reproductions of black-and-white photographs enlarged to such a degree that the printing grid becomes clearly visible. The photographs originating as illustrations accompanying newspaper articles or in advertisements are then combined with text which is mounted on red backgrounds. The end result is then also framed in red. The texts are sometimes invented by Kruger herself or are found among commonly used phrases or aphorisms, or the current buzz words and expressions in the world of popular culture. These usually appear to address the spectator directly. This is in accordance with Kruger's understanding of the duties and the scope of her art, an art in which she seeks - in a spirit of consciousness-raising and enlightenment - to draw attention to social relations. In accordance with this aim, she ensures that her work is not only exhibited in galleries or museums, but is also much more widely disseminated, through reproduction - be it in the forms of posters, post-cards, T-shirts or billboards. By this means she is also able to articulate her understanding of the art market as a microcosm reflecting the processes and relations to be found in a larger economic context. 

​Individual exhibitions (selection)
1974 Artist's Space Gallery, New York
1980 PS1 (Project Studio One), New York
1982 Larry Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
1983 Institute of Contemporary Art, London
1984 Kunsthalle, Basle
1985 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
1987 Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne
1988 National Art Gallery, Wellington
1992 Magasin, Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble
1994 Mary Boone Gallery, New York

Group exhibitions (selection)

1973 The Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
1981 »Nineteen Ernerging Artists«, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; »Pictures and Promises«, The Kitchen Center for Music, Video and Dance, New York
1982 documenta VII, Kassel; Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1984 The Biennale of Sydney, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1987 »L'époque, la mode, la morale, la passion«, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; documenta VIII, Kassel
1991 »Power: Its Myths and Mores in American Art, 1961-1991«, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, subsequently at Akron Art Museum, Akron, Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
1994 »An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Point to Digital«, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, subsequently at Mead Art Museum, Amherst, International Center of Photography, New York, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, San Diego
1996 »Is it Art?«, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah; »NowHere«, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek

​[Konstanze Thümmel, 1997]