Barbara Kruger is a contemporary conceptual artist and photographer from America who was born in New Jersey on 26th January 1945 to a middle class family. She completed her graduation from Weequahic High School and then attended Syracuse University. Afterwards she studied design and art at Parsons School of Design with Marvin Israel and Diane Arbus. Once her education concluded, she started working at Condé Nast Publications as a designer. She then joined the magazine Mademoiselle and then worked part-time, at Aperture, House and Garden, and other magazines, as a photo editor. In 1979 she published Picture/Readings that included photographs on architecture shot by her. At first she started off with graphic designing, then leaned towards photography and finally she mixed her two talents together to create a new approach altogether. Therefore, her work relies heavily on digital rendering and technology in order to enhance, distort or complement it.
Most of her works are made using monochrome photographs superimposed with declarative textual captions. Her words and phrases repeatedly include such pronouns as, your, you, we, I and they. Kruger divided her residence and work between Los Angeles and New York. All her pieces speak to the viewer with concise statements and questions about consumerism, desire, individualism, and feminism. The juxtaposition of text and imagery addresses issues like power circulation in societies and criticizes sexism.
She uses the colors white and red for her text that stand out on black and white photos. Two of her most noted slogans are Your body is a battleground, and I shop therefore I am. The images that appear behind the text are taken from conventional magazines that sell ideas that she is against. Her work is also threaded by the alteration and appropriation of existing images. The importance of such art is that one can play around with meanings.
Her work reflects her job in the magazines and their editorial and creative departments. She does a lot of editing, writing, lay out designing and research. Her paste ups are black and white works that are made from found pictures and texts culled from the mass media or are an invention of the artist.
From the mid-90s, Kruger has produced huge audio and video installations. Her work continued to question affection, contempt, control and power by putting life into still images through the use of movement and speech.
For her exhibition in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kruger made several flypostings, and fifteen billboards. Then at the Los Angeles Unified School District, she covered a bus with phrases to promote art, education, following orders – for public awareness.
In addition, Barbara Kruger also taught in educational institutions, such as California Institute of the Arts, University of California in Berkeley as well as in Los Angeles, and at Whitney Museum’s study program. From 1995 up to an year, at the Wexner Center for the Arts, she did a residency in arts where she addressed domestic violence issues through public service messages. In the year 2000, at the Claremont’s Scripps College, she did an Wiegand Foundation art residency.
Kruger has also been a writer and submitted her write-ups about culture, film and television to The New York Times, Art Forum, The Village Voice, and Esquire.
Barbara Kruger’s work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums, including P.S. 1 Contermporary Art Center, 1979; Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1983; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 1985; and in many more places. She was also given awards in 2001 for Distinguished Women in Arts by MOCA and in 2005, the Leone d’Oro – lifetime achievement award.