National Museum of Women in the Arts
Barbara Kruger
January 26 1945 - present
Photograph of Barbara Kruger, 1987, by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, courtesy of the photographer.
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
BAHRB-eh-rah KROO-guhr
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Photography, Installation Art
Artistic Role(s):
Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Installation Artist, Photographer, Printmaker
Conceptual Art
Artist's Biography:
Barbara Kruger’s provocative and confrontational images challenge the boundary between graphic design and graphic art. As a former graphic designer for Condé Nast Publications responsible for single-handedly designing Mademoiselle magazine, Kruger’s photographs and prints are very much informed by the conceptual and formal principals of advertising and magazine publication. Her work conveys a public message that questions the way in which the viewer reads traditional advertisements.

Born in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey, Kruger studied at the Parsons School of Design with photographer Diane Arbus and graphic designer Marvin Israel both of whom greatly influenced her work. After eleven years at Condé Nast Publications and as a freelance graphic designer, Kruger began working as an independent photographer. In 1976, she taught at the University of California, Berkeley. During the mid-1970s Kruger became active with Artists for Cultural Change, an organization that increased her interest in gender and political issues which inspire much of her work today.

Kruger combines words and phrases with pre-existing images to create mock advertisements and statements. The images are primarily printed in black and white with red text, which creates a bold statement that necessitates an instant response. She has been known to mix her own previously-used text and/or images, with other previously-used images and text, further challenging the way her work is read. The size and installation of Kruger’s work demonstrates the versatility of graphic art. Her work has been shown on billboards, matchbooks, t-shirts, and as traditional prints. In 2002, she created a series of images that covered the city buses in Siena, Italy using transportation as a means for communication. Kruger challenges the way in which consumer images are read, as well as interpretations of her own work. She lives and works in New York.

Other Occupation(s):
Curator , Film Critic, Teacher, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Los Angeles
Where Trained/Schools:
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, USA (1966) Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, USA (1965-1966) Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA (1964-1965)
Related Visual Artists:
friend of and collaborated with Jenny Holzer friend of and collaborated with Keith Haring friend of Ross Bleckner friend of Sherrie Levine friend of Richard Prince friend of David Salle student of Diane Arbus student of Marvin Israel influenced by Hannah Höch influenced by John Heartfield
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1983) Grant, Creative Artists Public Service Program, New York State Council on the Arts, New York, NY, USA (1976)
Earliest exhibition:
Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (1973)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Presswork: The Art of Women Printmakers
Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection
Book as Art II
Artist retrospective(s):
Barbara Kruger, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1999-2000)
Raping Monsters with 32 oz. 7UP Bottles