Untitled #3719 (You Construct Intricate Rituals Which Allow You to Touch the Skins of Other Men)

Barbara Kruger

One of the best known 1980s artists to wed critical theory and photography, Kruger began her professional career as a graphic designer and media critic. Her commercial background coupled with strong feminist beliefs influenced her conceptual and aesthetic approach to art making. Kruger works from pre-existing photographs, which are easily read as archetypes of America's conflict between consumerism and idealized values. She enlarges, crops, and recasts the images as monumental provocations. The juxtaposed text, suggestive of the confrontational technique of advertising slogans, directly addresses the viewer through the use of shifting pronouns. Unlike the clarity of advertising, however, Kruger's montages are ambiguous, the language fluid. Gender oppositions are implied but never fixed and thus, the images are open to multiple interpretations. As a final flourish, Kruger packages her photographs in theatrical red frames, explicitly highlighting the commodified nature of art. Kruger is often associated with a group of artists including Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, and Richard Prince who use appropriation as the driving methodology in producing photo-based work. They came to be known as Postmodern photographers, and their historical roots lay in the Duchampian tradition of the Readymade as well as the appropriative practice of the Pop artists, like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, who incorporated silk-screened photographs of media and advertising in their art.
Date of Birth
(b. 1945)
Date
1984
Medium
Photograph
Dimensions
71 1/2 x 45 in. (181.61 x 114.3 cm.)
Accession #
1984.19
Credit Line
Gift of Henry S. McNeil, Jr.
Category
On View
No
On Loan
No

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