Research object 02_Barbara Kruger

My second research object was an America artist, Barbara Kruger. I discovered her creations in a graduation show that I visited during the summer vacation. The main reason to explore her deeply was a similar genre of my third work combing black and white images with words. Therefore, I borrow book ‘ Love for sale: the words and Pictures of Barbara Kruger’, written by Kate Linker in 1990, from UWE’s library.

In writer’s description, Kruger is an America artist who concerns deeply to the social and political issues and is a postmodernist that objects the existing ideology and the symbolic cognition in her generation. By her aesthetic demonstrations, she hopes to interfere with those beliefs and to disrupt the stereotypes.

“I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to deter­mine who we are and who we aren’t,” quotation from Schirn.

For example, her third work in 1986 juxtaposed a picture referring to nuclear explosion with a statement ‘You manias become science’. It provides the opportunities for audiences and government to question if a positive attitude is the only answer towards scientific development. (Drozdek, 2006)

The book also mentions Kruger’s thought that stereotypes exist in everyday life and every media, particularly that of television affecting her well, filling with images. Therefore, in her works, she often utilizes the way of black-white photographs with white on red provocative descriptions to eliminate the pictorial metaphor and to speak with viewers, which is her trademark.

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Besides, her concerns take part in feminism. The works ‘Your body is a battleground’ and ‘You are yourself’ show the position of female in society and bring awareness to them. Even though both of works are seems to incline towards female according to images, Kruger does not use the terms ‘He’ and ‘She’ to point out the objects she wants to talk with, but the words ‘You’, including both genders, to look for the audiences who accept her views. Kruger considers that sexuality and personal identity are not established in absolute position but relative one.

Kruger’s creations have many resonances for me on the doubt of ideology in society and the relationship between images and captions. The impertinent, enlightened and concise phrases are influential to spectators, compared with the humble, warm and long expressions. Her captions written in the first-person pronouns ‘I’, ‘We’, ‘You’, ‘Me’, ‘Us’ also pay my attentions. By her works, I am awake to the arrangement of words and photos in my third work and hope to demonstrate them well in my final exhibition.


Drozdek, J. (2006) Looking to the Left: Politics in the Art of Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer. Kritikos [online]. 3, Retrieved 17 August 2016 from