Who is Barbara Kruger?

Micaela Preble
March 8, 2022

Every art lover has probably heard of Barbara Kruger. Who would have thought that a freelance book cover designer and fashion illustrator would become an iconic American conceptual artist? She is not only a famous American designer but also a graphic artist and photographer. Each art piece is associated with conceptual art and feminist art. She combines techniques like appropriation with her direct commentary and characteristics to communicate with the viewers. Keep reading to get more familiar with Kruger and her creations.

Barbara Kruger: The Beginning

Barbara Kruger is an artist who has participated in various mediums, including painting, illustration, drawing, and also working as a professor at an art school. Her work is very diverse in terms of subject matter and style, but she is most famous for her visual art and graphic design.

Born in 1945, Barbara has spent a lifetime exploring the relationship between art and our society’s visual and pop culture and is frequently listed as one of the most important artistic voices in the world today. She is a visual and conceptual artist who has developed a distinctive graphic style characterized by bold typography. Her innovative combination of words and images has made her a leading feminist cultural critic and a social and political commentator on the issues of our time. Her work has been described as a blend of Old Master painting and feminist analysis.

 
 
 
 
 
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How Did She Become Popular?

Barbara Kruger is best known for appropriating media images to convey a feminist cultural critique. Her work is also very popular, and she is known for the words she uses in her pieces. As a result of all these, she is known for her combination of type and image that conveys a direct feminist cultural critique.

Barbara Kruger is one of our favorite artists. She is a conceptual artist and a collagist that challenges the very idea of artistic expression. She is famous for her silkscreen prints, where she places a direct as well as concise caption across the surface of a found photograph. 

Then, She became a controversial figure. Why? Some hail her as the greatest artist of her generation, while others say she doesn’t deserve the accolades. She has influenced the art world with a relatively short career but has also been accused of plagiarism by other artists. Regardless of the argument, one thing is sure: Barbara Kruger is a legend in the art world. Her work is filled with powerful messages about the state of the world.

Barbara Kruger’s Artistic Career

Barbara Kruger created her first art in the late 1960s, and by the mid-1970s, she was considered one of the most important artists of the post-modern art movement. She adapted visual design principles to art-making with a background in graphic design. She used simple symbols and symbols to communicate complex ideas clearly, and was the first artist to use the phrase “political art.”

In the early 1980s, Barbara was producing what many considered the best work of her entire career, a series of arresting black-and-white photographs that would establish Kruger’s iconoclastic legacy. This work would eventually become her hallmark and her most recognizable, with the artist using her signature agitprop style to confront audiences with her view on life, society, and politics.

While much of contemporary art is made by individuals who hold radical belief systems, Barbara Kruger’s work is overtly political in a very different way. Some see her as an artist who questions and critiques, while others see her as a communicator of social change. Her work is rooted in art history, but it’s astutely political in the modern world.

What are Her Notable Works?

In the mid-nineties, Barbara Kruger, an American artist, was at the peak of her career. The public and critics alike began to notice her work. Although she’s had her ups and downs—even being briefly shut out of shows due to her unconventional appearance—the artist has done remarkably well for herself.

Barbara Kruger is a visual artist who creates paintings, prints, and installation work that addresses politics, identity, feminism, and the body. She is best known for her graphic social commentary, which often addresses society’s propensity towards violence, racism, sexism, and classism. Her work has been exhibited worldwide and is constantly in demand. She is best known for her subversive and dark pieces, which demand for a long time. However, this does not say that she does not have other exciting jobs.

Here are some of her notable works:

I Shop Therefore I Am

Barbara Kruger created her most famous work: I Shop Therefore I Am (1987), for Nike. The image is a black and white photo of hand-stretched forward with the words “I SHOP THEREFORE AM” written in red on top of its palm print-shaped design. Since then, this piece has become one iconic artwork that can be found all over consumer products like shopping bags or t-shirts, even when you don’t know what store they came from.

This artwork forces viewers to pay attention by using a blurred background and highlighting the red square, which has text that reads ” tipping point.” The index finger of this hand is most visible because it draws attention away from other areas for the readership to focus on what’s important.

Your Body is a Battleground

Kruger’s poster is one of the most iconic images in art history. It was meant for an anti-choice march on April 9th, 1989 but now has a new purpose – to voice opinions about gender inequality and how it affects women today. Kruger combined black & white computer-generated images from decades ago with contrasting white Futura Bold titles written in large letters against red panels that frame the message “This country doesn’t understand what it’s doing.” 

In response to the increasingly anti-abortion laws in America, she created a painting used at the Women’s March on Washington. This artwork enabled women’s liberty and reproductive rights by protecting their right to access abortion without restriction from government interference or unnecessary regulation.

 
 
 
 
 
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You Are Not Yourself

Kruger uses bold graphic techniques to jar the woman in this piece and you, delivering an intense wake-up call from messages delivered by society. While displaying a fragmented mirror with only one word written on it, Kruger interpreted that myth about women being alienating or trapping them into thinking they’re alone when men are just trying their best at tricking themselves too. 

“Woman” is a collection of shattered parts, roles, and expectations forced upon her by society. She picks up one shard to examine it in confusion; the shapes do not fit together into something whole- a woman can’t be what everyone expects her to be because it’s constructed from individual glass prisons built around our female identity.

Purchasing Barbara Krueger 

Art is one of the most powerful ways to express thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It can be used to convey messages, ideas, and feelings. Therefore, it is common to hear that art can be a great learning tool, an agent of change, a medium for communication, or the people’s voice. With that, it is nearly impossible to miss the work Barbara Kruger has done over the last few decades. The German artist has profoundly impacted artistic culture through her posters, prints, and sculptures. Her work has been widely recognized, and while she doesn’t produce much new work anymore, fans of the artist still enjoy her older pieces.

The artworld is a crowded one. It’s filled with people trying to beat out other people. It is filled with people trying to make a name for themselves and make a name for their clients. It’s filled with people trying to make a name for their art. Barbara Kruger’s art is the kind that makes you stop and stare – the kind that makes you say, “Wow, I’m not sure there is a word for that, but that is what that looks like.”


Micaela Preble
Micaela is an NYC-based art content writer covering art investing, art news, and art historical content. Micaela graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a minor in communication arts. During her time at GSU she was a member of The Design Group (DG) and Student Art League (SAL) while also actively participating in curating and volunteering at the Center for Art and Theatre.