September 16, 2006
You are seduced by the sex appeal of the Inorganic
I really love this piece by Barbara Kruger. It makes me think a lot about how fashion imagery (and really all commercial imagery in general) is painstakingly constructed in order to appeal to our aesthetic and sexual selves and how in postmodernity nothing is quite removed from capitalism. Which is fine and well in one sense because I love soft leather gloves as much as the next fashionista, but ultimately what Kruger questions is the empty nature of the pleasures promised. How fitting for someone who used to work in the art department of consumer magazines!
Here's her biography from Tate Online:
American conceptual artist, designer and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse, NY, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (b 1924), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper's Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger's interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. In photograph-based images she examined the representation of power via mass-media images, appropriating their iconography and slogans and deconstructing them visually and verbally. Such works as Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece) (photograph, 1.82×1.16 m, 1982; New York, MOMA) exploit an economy of image and text to articulate and undermine the power-based relations established in such media images. Major influences cited by Kruger include films, television and the stereotypical situations of everyday life, and especially her training as a graphic designer. Her messages have been displayed in both galleries and public spaces, as well as on framed and unframed photographs, posters, T-shirts, electronic signboards, billboards and flyposters.