Highly influential in the development of feminist and conceptual art, Barbara Kruger is most famous for her confrontational screen prints of the 1980s. Born in 1945 and a trained graphic designer, Kruger takes images from magazines and emblazons them with critical messages rendered in her signature typeface Futura Bold. Black, white, and red dominate her work, drawing on the color palette and spirit of the Russian Constructivists. Kruger’s brand of sociocultural critique focuses on issues of gender and in particular female empowerment, evident in such works as Untitled (Your body is a battleground) from 1989.
The clash of images and text in Kruger’s work lend it much of its force; the printed words and slogans often comment ironically on the pictures they superimpose, changing the original function of the visual material to give it a political edge. Barbara Kruger’s art constantly questions the status quo, the artist maintaining that “I'm trying to be affective, to suggest changes, and to resist what I feel are the tyrannies of social life on a certain level”. Culturally critical and deeply informed by contemporary advertising techniques, Kruger’s prints are powerful sites of resistance against the objectification of women in the media.
Dividing her time between New York and Los Angeles, Barbara Kruger had her first major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1999, which travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York the following year. She had the honor of representing the United States at the 1982 Venice Biennale and her work has been included twice in documenta and three times in the Whitney Biennale.