Review: In a smashing new LACMA retrospective, Barbara Kruger probes the modern media maelstrom

by AryanArtnews
0 comment

Barbara Kruger has a way in words. Big, bold, and often visually big words.

Kluger combines outstanding graphic design skills with a deep knowledge of the structural complexity of art and language, not to mention the media turmoil in which modern life lives. For 40 years, LA-based artists have explored social, cultural and political landscapes by skillfully combining keen insights and tearing wit.

Her work is prominently featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art (a wonderful half-finished survey in 1999, plus two sharp building murals), the UCLA Hammer Museum (a bold entry installation in 2014), and the Los Angeles County. There are no strangers in the city’s museums. The museum (the 2008 committee on the three-story elevator shaft in BCAM is somewhat unsuccessful, but too busy with the available space), the artist is currently the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the LACMA. It has become.

In the title of the show, “Barbara Kruger: I’m thinking of you. I mean me. I mean you.” (Add an X above “you” and “me”) The vague shift that bounces between the personal pronouns “I”, “you”, and “I” opens up a transparent space where the artist draws the viewer’s attention. Because of the slipperiness of what they are trying to see. Who is speaking, who is listening, who is supervising, or who is benefiting from it, is not as clear or simple as one might imagine.

See the 2013 digital print “Untitled (Truth)” on a vinyl sheet about 6 feet high and 10 feet wide. A pair of hands pulls the elastic elastic bandage overprinted with the word “truth”. These are all uppercase letters in the traditional Helvetica typeface. Somewhere between the sign and the mural, the sign gets confused in a productive and scrutinizing way.

Is the elasticity of facts, reality, or certainty under urgent consideration? You would think so. The crimson words printed on the bright green field create a dynamism of mixed colors on the other side of the color wheel, creating a purely visual alertness.

A glimpse of the shirt cuffs and suit jacket, the hands belong to a businessman. So is this a known reference to the power of patriarchy that defines, manipulates, looks bad and distorts credibility?

Shiny fingernails are groomed, polished and a clear reasoning of the social class, but the function of the compression bandage is to bind the wound and help heal. Did the dominance of masculine corporate affluence undermine reality?

The bandage is stretched and twisted, but the flat, clean, bright red words are at least not distorted or distorted. Is it a stable truth that declares that what is depicted in Kruger’s carefully crafted image is superimposed?

Barbara Kruger, “Untitled (Eternal)”, 2017, digital print on vinyl wallpaper and floor coverings.

(Museum Associates / LACMA)

The gallery floor where the work is located further confuses the message. Initially, the mysterious description of the invisible photo is introduced in vinyl text on a wall of white letters on a red ground. Everything is related to the human body.

A vomiting body that shouts “Kiss me”. “

“The body of whispering prayer’saves me.'”

“The muttered numb body is’shock me’.”

The text printed on the floor of a large room can only be read by moving around the space and shooting darts gaze between the feet of other museum visitors. Their bodies, and your own bodies, are intertwined with their pictorial references to physical experiences and bring home ghostly, bodyless paintings.

As anyone who sees the flickering light of a cell phone screen can prove, a physical experience is now commonplace in modern life — the truth. (“The feeling is to do it with your hands,” says another large digital print on vinyl, the image of a woman’s elaborately groomed hands floating on a deadly X-ray of a skeletal bone. In the retrospective of almost a quarter of a century ago, one of the main differences between this study and Kruger’s MOCA mid-carrier, the world of analog images was almost completely transformed into a digital world. ..

Kluger has modified and adjusted things accordingly. One of the great things about her work is how to start with a visual environment that is already familiar to the audience. She does not complain or fend off the mass media context and instead unpacks it for us.


Barbara Kruger, "Untitled (why only the fetus has the right to life?)," Typed on photo and paper in 1986.

Barbara Kruger, “Untitled (Why Only the Fetus Has the Right to Life?)”, 1986, typed on photo and paper.

(Christopher Nights / Los Angeles Times)

Along the Wilshere Boulevard of LACMA, 20 collages of works from the early 1980s that made her famous at the show at the Sprüth Magers Gallery are simple pastes of the type that were once regularly used in commercial publishing. It is attached. (The collage was exhibited in a retrospective when it debuted at the Art Institute of Chicago last fall, but LACMA didn’t have enough space.) In most cases she was by German designer Paul in 1927. We have adopted a variation of the created sans-serif type face called Futura. Renner was later persecuted by the Nazis. In her collage are some of her classics, including a block copy that declares “Your body is a battlefield” and “Why only the fetus has the right to life”.

In the late 1970s, she began to embrace the techniques of abstraction and typographic eccentricity pioneered by Russian avant-garde Alexander Rochenko and Varvara Stepanova in the early 20th century. As the poet David Burliuk made famous in the 1917 manifesto, their stunningly adventurous graphics were “slaps in the face of public taste.”

However, Kluger avoids such opposition. Instead, she used her last generation of pop, minimalist, and conceptual art to understand and question the “system that includes us.”

Not only was the strategy successful, it also affected an army of amateur imitators. The show’s witty opening gallery features many of them.

In recent years, the digital transformation of society has meant rethinking previous works for new digital presentations. The show has many examples — one of the most effective 2020 video versions of the 1988 “Pledge” that runs slightly longer than a minute.

Instead of X-outing and replacing the words in the static graphic American Pledge of Allegiance, she digitized the evolutionary process, like an editor that erases text with a blue pencil until the correct word is found. Words unfold on the video screen to the relentless and rhythmic beats of a tick-like soundtrack.

It begins with “Pledge of Allegiance” and the last word is replaced by the sequence “Pledge of Allegiance-Worship-Anxiety-Affluenza-Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag …”. There are even shocking atrocities and prejudices in emotions, and elsewhere where the text follows. Finally, you reach a more complete understanding of your participation in building social contracts.

The ephemeral nature of digital hits the “Justice”, an inactive 1997 statue of white-painted fiberglass. FBI influential J. Edgar Huber, known for using secret files of illegal sexual activity to control politicians, mass fired gay civil servants during the early days of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Designed by Donald Trump’s brutal mentor, Roy Cohn, a homosexual lawyer in the closet, “Lavender Scare” in the 1950s.

Barbara Kruger, "justice," In 1997, painted glass fiber.

Barbara Kruger, “Justice”, 1997, painted fiberglass.

(Christopher Nights / Los Angeles Times)

Kruger’s composition is reminiscent of Alfred Eisenstat’s 1945 photo of a sailor kissing a nurse at Times Square on V-J Day in Time. Wrapped in an American flag skirt and kicking high-heeled pumps, Hoover and Korn are trying to lock their lips with an amorous hug.

“Justice” ridicules Eisenstat’s festive pose. A reversion to a pristine 19th-century American neoclassical statue that idealized the value of establishing morality and virtue, this statue was and still is almost everyone’s enjoyment of liberation from the fascist threat. Claims not.

The show was co-sponsored by The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York (held in July), and LACMA, and was directed by director Michael Govan and curator Rebecca Morse. It’s pretty tight in its current form, featuring just 33 pieces, and includes printed vinyl panels, full-room installations, single-channel videos, large LED videos, and wallpapers.

It comes with a catalog with two unusual features. Both are worth it.

One fascinating 12 of Kruger’s murals, billboards, and magazine design documentary photographs dating back to the period of the COVID-19 pandemic closure and the months of public protest after George Floyd’s murder. The page opening sequence. It’s embarrassing to see armed soldiers in front of MOCA’s Kruger mural thinking they are “beyond the law.”

The other is a 30-page closing sequence of essays previously published by various writers, which Kluger used as a classroom syllabus when teaching at UCLA for many years. Subjects range from economics and identity politics to sexuality and comedy.

For artists creating works that rely on the tension between images and text, photography and essays are catalog framing devices with extraordinary insight. Together, they often evoke artists who have succeeded in placing her work outside the greenhouse environment of a narrow art world.

My husband’s favorite T-shirt is Kruger’s design with the proper legend of belief + doubt = sanity. A wise word for normal daily life, especially in a media-saturated environment full of suspicious promises.

‘Barbara Kruger: I’m thinking of you. I mean me I mean you “

where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
when: Until July 17th.Closed on Mondays
information: (323) 857-6000,

Related Posts

Leave a Comment