On the occasion of her Guild Hall show in East Hampton and the unveiling of her work on the site of the Whitney Museum’s new construction site, the New York Times gives us a brief bio of Barbara Kruger’s work:
Born in 1945 in Newark, Ms. Kruger studied with Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel, a former art director for Harper’s Bazaar, before she began working as a page designer at Mademoiselle in 1966. In 1969 she made her first artworks, crocheted and sewn wall hangings, and began to write poetry and organize shows.
Coming of age in New York alongside friends like Richard Prince, Sarah Charlesworth, Cindy Sherman, Sherrie Levine, Ross Bleckner and Julian Schnabel, she said, “none of us ever thought we’d sell our work — ever!”
In 1979 Ms. Kruger exhibited her first works combining appropriated photographs and fragments of superimposed text at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, in Long Island City, Queens. “My artwork grew straight out of my work as a page designer,” she said. Unable to afford color prints, she converted images culled from magazines — close-ups of faces, hands, eyes — into black and white.
In 1988, when she became the first woman to join the Mary Boone Gallery, she was already making what are now considered her defining images.
In addition to the Guild Hall show, which runs through Oct. 11, she has been commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art to install a monumental artwork, opening to the public on Sept. 10, at the construction site where it plans to build its new branch in the meatpacking district starting next spring. A large-scale presentation of her texts and images has embellished the facade of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto this summer, while the temporary Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (filling in during the main museum’s overhaul) opened on Saturday with a Dutch-and-English Kruger installation on prominent display, and the Sprüth Magers Gallery in Berlin is preparing a solo show of her video work (“The Globe Shrinks,” to open Friday).
In broad terms, much of Ms. Kruger’s recent art is similar to the work that made her famous 30 years ago, built around puckish, aphoristic bits of texts that are at once politically biting and coolly aloof. But the ideas behind them have changed with a culture that Ms. Kruger, now 65 and a self-declared news addict, monitors like an anthropologist. In the Whitney project for example — in which black vinyl sheets with white text will cover fencing around the excavated site and the roofs of trailers within it — her slogans will speak to the transformation of urban landscapes like the ultratrendy meatpacking district.
Resurgent Agitprop in Capital Letters (New York Times)