Barbara Kruger is an American artist who works with pictures and words. Kruger uses the fluency she developed as a graphic designer to inform her work as an artist, insistently addressing the issues of power, property, money, race, and sexuality. Over the past three decades her work has ranged from the photographic merging of image and text, to immersive video installations, to room-wrapping textual exhibitions, to large-scale outdoor displays of words and images. Two of her best-known works – Your body is a battleground and I shop therefore I am – also showcase the feminist overtones of her artworks, and her concentration on women as a lucrative site for advertising and consumerism.
For the High Line, Kruger presents Untitled (Blind Idealism Is…), a new work realized as a hand-painted mural. Continuing her unabashed criticism of culture and power, the mural features the slogan “BLIND IDEALISM IS REACTIONARY SCARY DEADLY,” an adaptation of a quote from Afro-Caribbean philosopher and revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon, which has appeared in multiple works by the artist. The original statement by Fanon, “Blind idealism is reactionary,” suggests that political and religious convictions stem from the situations from which they grow, not from the inherent nature of individual human beings. According to Kruger, the work reflects “how we are to one another” within “the days and nights that construct us.” These texts, along with Kruger’s own writings, resonate with particular potency in today’s political climate.
Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Blind Idealism Is…) Will be on View Until March 2017, Adjacent to the High Line at West 22nd Street., in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Photographed By Gail at the Mary Boone Gallery on 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District
Commentary Below is Excerpted from Smithsonian Magazine‘s Barbara Kruger’s Artwork Speaks Truth to Power:
Even if you don’t know the name Barbara Kruger, you’ve probably seen her work in art galleries, on magazine covers or in giant installations that cover walls, billboards, buildings, buses, trains and tram lines all over the world. Kruger takes images from the mass media and pastes words over them, big, bold extracts of text — aphorisms, questions, slogans. Short machine-gun bursts of words that when isolated, and framed by Kruger’s gaze, linger in your mind, forcing you to think twice, thrice about clichés and catchphrases, introducing ironies into cultural idioms and the conventional wisdom they embed in our brains.
I Shop Therefore I Am, (1987), one of Kruger’s most famous works, makes a pointed critique of our consumer culture. Read more about the life and work of Barbara Kruger at the link above.
You Invest in the Divinity of The Masterpiece By Barbara Kruger (All Photos By Gail)
Contemporary Art Fans: here’s fun show that you won’t want to miss, and it’s only up for two more weeks, so act fast! Curator/Dealer Vito Schnabel (son of Artist and Film Director Julian Schnabel) and the Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF), an anonymous art collective focused on providing free art education through Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU), are currently hosting The Last Brucennial: a group show featuring the works of over 600 Known and Unknown Artists across a wide variety of mediums.
Gallery View from Washington Street Entrance
The extremely diverse and highly engaging show is located in a massive new retail space just across from the future site of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which premiered its Biennial group exhibit on the same night as The Last Brucennial’s opening reception. The Last Brucennial — as the name hints at — will wrap up a six-year legacy of Brucennial exhibits, after which the BHQF can focus its energy and resources toward the activities of BHQFU and its 700 enrolled students.
Founded in 2008 in direct opposition to other high-profile biennials that seek to advance the commercialization of art, the Brucennial is not a curated group show, but a celebration of and catalyst for an ever-widening community of artists. This year’s call for artists, I was told by a contributing artist in the show, was conducted solely by word of mouth. This exhibit is also noteworthy in that it features the works of female artists, exclusively. It’s fun to see the works of both widely known artists such as Barbara Kruger, Lynda Benglis and Tracey Emin alongside the paintings and sculptures by artists for whom this exhibit represents their first public showing.
Here are a few of our favorite pieces from the show, along with random commentary:
This horn-shaped installation you see above is the first piece to your left upon entering the space. From within, it broadcasts a drastically slowed down recording of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” which was so slow it made the tempo of a dirge seem more like a jig. The recording is loud enough to be heard in adjacent galleries.
This is what it looked like inside. You can see the speaker emerging from a pile of dirt.
I call this one “Assemblage Sculpture with Heart, Lion Head and Hair Extensions.”
Trust Yourself Pink Neon Sculpture by Tracey Emin.
This Photo of a Church Altar with Umbrella and Beach Balls reminded me somewhat of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Altar Installations.
Off to the right in the above photo, you will see what I call the True Detective Installation, which looks like some kind of medieval Stock devise with attached antlers in and around which a fully nude live model is entwined. When I saw this piece I could not help but think of the way in which Dora Lange’s lifeless body was found in the premier episode of that popular HBO crime drama, though I do not know if that was an influence on the artist.
This is one of my favorites: a colorful Sculpture Of Found Objects that includes Mixing Bowls, a Waste Basket, a Globe and an Umbrella. If it lit up like a lamp, my head would explode.
This looks like a container of crocheted Cheese Puffs. The artist’s name, which is written directly on the wall just below the frame, looks like Breanne Tremmez. I wasn’t too diligent about noting the names of all of these artists, so if you see your work in this post please feel free to identify yourself in the comments.
“Cheeseburger Santa Puzzle.”
Marsh Lines series Coffee Cup and Matching Painting By Gwyneth Leech. You can see more of Gwyneth’s work at This Link.
Big Stick and Bomb Pop Sculptures By Bee Spiderman!
I love the banality of this piece by Adriana Farmiga.
People were letting their unsupervised children run around like maniacs. Fortunately, it did not affect this work, comprised of a pile of plaster rubble.
I wonder what story this one is trying to tell us. I like looking at it. (Art By Gigi Chen)
“Feminist Performance Art.”
The Last Brucennial will be on Exhibit Through April 4th, 2014 at 837 Washington (Corner of Washington St. and 13th St.) in the Meat Packing District. Exhibit Hours are Wednesday – Sunday 12 Noon to 6:00 PM.