Since the 1980s, the American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger has deftly dissected the visual and graphic codes of advertising, consumerism, marketing and propaganda. Her bold works – declarative texts juxtaposed with found images – question the assumptions embedded in advertising and the limits of individual agency in a consumer society. Kruger’s works highlight photography’s complicity in reinforcing ideologies of power and control; in maintaining gender stereotypes; and in stimulating consumer desire. The message of her work remains relevant, and her critical stance remains potent as the boundaries between advertising, journalism, and entertainment continue to shift and blur. She has said, “I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.”
Public installations of Kruger’s instantly recognizable work have punctuated galleries, museums, municipal buildings, train stations, parks, buses and billboards around the world. Kruger’s newest site-specific installation – commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and CONTACT – will run a full block, along the AGO’s façade on Dundas Street from McCaul Street to Beverley Street, beginning May 1.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Kruger trained at Syracuse University and the Parsons School of Design in New York in the mid-1960s before pursuing a successful career as a graphic designer and art director for such magazines as Mademoiselle and House and Garden. By the 1980s, she had transmuted that training into her artworks. Kruger continues to actively exhibit her work internationally. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.
Curated by Sophie Hackett and Bonnie Rubenstein.
Presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario.