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Artist Of The Postmodernist Movement, Barbara Kruger Sends A Message To The Public

1322 words - 6 pages

Swallowing whole buses and buildings, the words of montage artist Barbara Kruger send messages to the public exemplifying problems with consumerism, feminism, and power. One of Kruger’s more popular slogans is “Your Body Is a Battleground”. Typically she works on a large scale, using images taken from the media then juxtaposes the image with text. The majority of her work deals with black and white images. Her work can be seen throughout billboards, buses, posters, and even matchbooks. Growing up in the middle class in Newark, New Jersey, Kruger studied at Sycrause University in 1964 then attended Parsons School of Design afterwards (Becker). Kruger was taught by Diane Arbus, who was her “first female role model” (Kruger) as well as Marvin Israel who she claims “[both] had an influence on [her]” (Kruger). Kruger then went on to work at Condé Nast Publications, where she would work many years, then proceeded to work in graphic design, with magazines “House and Garden” and “Aperture”. Kruger’s work in graphic design had a heavy influence on her later works, “[her] photo work with words comes full-on from [her] job as a magazine designer” (Kruger). Although Kruger’s work isn’t as popular in the postmodernist movement as other artists like Piet Mondrian, her ideas and work as a conceptual artist are very much a part of the postmodernist movement.
Born in the beginning of the post war era following World War II, Barbara Kruger grew up in a time that was transitioning from the modernist period into the postmodern or contemporary period (Becker). During this time artists were rejecting the logical thinking of modernism; which is rooted in the truthful facts and science. Postmodernism can be considered to be a reaction to modernism. It is relatively difficult to deliver one single definition of postmodernism because to define it would violate the principles of a postmodernist; which concludes that no definite terms, or absolute truths exist (Butler) The work of postmodernists tend to resist the metanarrative of modernism, which is a story that links together smaller stories to give us a presumed whole (Butler). The concept of the metanarrative can be significant to Kruger’s work because it can allow us to understand her reasoning behind choosing the text she uses in juxtaposition with her chosen images. Many works of the postmodern periods inspire us to ask questions about its context rather than its content: Kruger wants her works to impose a feeling of nervousness on the viewer. Kruger uses that feeling as motivation to question her messages in relation to society’s wide expectations, instead of relying on commonly accepted metanarratives that have over time created ignorance. This can be seen in Kruger’s work “Your comfort is my silence”, it displays a black and white image of a man with his index finger over his mouth. Kruger uses pronouns to shift the viewer’s position, provoking a reaction to the fact that the word "you" is not referring to the...

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