Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Art, Culture, and Politics

Who is Barbara Kruger?

Barbara Kruger (1945–) is an American conceptual artist and graphic designer known for her photographic collages. As a student in New York City, she was taught by famed photographers Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel and she later became a graphic designer at Harper’s Bazaar and then chief designer at Mademoiselle. Kruger’s work uses the power of mass media and advertisement to make her text-and-image pieces, which usually feature black-and-white images with bold, white-on-red text. Manipulating the power of slogans, Kruger’s work broadcasts such messages as “I shop therefore I am” and “We don’t need another hero.” Her work also questions the traditionally passive role of women in art with her famous piece, Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face (1981), which depicts the profile view of a female sculpture along with the text. Kruger often uses personal pronouns such as “I,” “You,” and “Me” so as to avoid gender associations and make her statements universal. Her later work often uses appropriated images and more recently, she has begun creating installations. Kruger’s style has been described as “agitprop” (a blend of the words “agitation” and “propaganda”) and 250 her work focuses on themes of feminism, consumerism, and identity.


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