Barbara Kruger

19th November 2019

“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.”

Barbara Kruger

Exercise 3.5 takes a look at Photographs with text and one of the artists is the conceptual artist Barbara Kruger. All I can say is – BRILLIANT! I create a lot of artwork that combines photographs with text, in many different ways from the simple image alongside chosen text, collage, to handwriting the text on, Photoshop and Cross-app work using my iPad. I know I will thoroughly enjoy this exercise and the research that goes with it.

Wow! Where to start?

Firstly when I Googled her name and looked at the images there were many that I recognise from advertising campaigns, so this intrigued me. Kruger is an American conceptual artist and collagist that uses black and white photos and phrases within her work. I have discovered:

Most of her work consists of black-and-white photographs, overlaid with declarative captions, stated in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique or Helvetica Ultra Condensed text. The phrases in her works often include pronouns such as “you”, “your”, “I”, “we”, and “they”, addressing cultural constructions of power, identity, and sexuality.

I have decided to start with writing a list of words that I obtain from looking at a body of her work, they are listed in no particular order.

  • Photograph
  • Text
  • Slogan
  • Limited colour palette
  • Direct message
  • Montage, collage
  • Bold
  • Dynamic
  • Graphic design
  • Political
  • Sales
  • Conscience
  • Powerful
  • Hard hitting
  • Message
  • Feminist
  • Advertising
  • Street art
  • Stereotypes
  • Questioning

Such simplicity in her work but so many words that I obtained just by looking over them for five minutes. I already know I like her work, it is the style that I look for in my street photography and have seen other people copy. I also am drawn to it because I use text within my photography art works and often use the same colour schemes.

Kruger combines photographs taken from magazines and other mass media sources and then adds her own direct and challenging text, (Hacking,2012. Photography, The Whole Story, pg419. London, Thames and Hudson)

Barbara Kruger: in her own words

I absolutely love her work, it is so dynamic and thought provoking. Whether you like her work or not it will provoke a reaction. The images are so bold and dramatic with the harsh black and white photographs and contrasting red, white and black of text that our eyes are drawn straight to them.

I have also noticed that the images are close up and do not have any distracting background to them either, they need to be simple to create that impact on the viewer, ‘Here is the image, here is my text! ‘ ‘Now react!’

Her works today are still keeping to the same format and style that she is known for, and, still gives that powerful punch of text and image. Below are a few modern works of Krugers, 2015-19.

Loving this work to bits!

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