American artist Barbara Kruger opens a new exhibition at David Zwirner this week spanning the gallery’s three locations on West 19th Street in New York, this will be Kruger’s first presentation at the gallery since the announcement of her representation in 2019.
Kruger powerfully and directly engages with viewers through her distinctive visual language, utilizing images, text, and technology as tools of communication to reveal and question established power structures and social constructs. The exhibition will feature nine large-scale video works and installations, as well as sound installations and vinyl wallpaper, that not only reaffirm the cultural prominence of Kruger’s iconic visual language but reveal the radical inventiveness and lasting relevance of her incisive work with pictures and words.
The exhibition will feature a major new video installation, Untitled (No Comment) (2020). Over the course of this immersive three-channel work, Kruger combines text, images, and audio clips with a barrage of found memes and other internet mainstays, ranging from blurred-out selfies to animated photos of cats, that foreground twenty-first-century modes of content consumption.
A number of the works on view reconfigure in new digital formats some of the most well-known examples from Kruger’s oeuvre, transforming these previously static images into dynamic video works that engage with the visual paradigm of the current moment. In 2019 the artist began creating a series of animated “replays,” each one augmented with striking sound effects, in which she translates her iconic pasteup collages from the 1980s to this new format. Five of Kruger’s replays will be on view: Untitled (I shop therefore I am) (1987/2019), Untitled (Your body is a battleground) (1989/2019), Untitled (Admit nothing/Blame everyone/Be bitter) (1987/2020), Untitled (Our Leader) (1987/2020), and Untitled (Remember me) (1988/2020).
Also featured will be Pledge, Will, Vow (1988/2020)—currently included in the 59th Venice Biennale, as well as in Kruger’s solo exhibition at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin—in which transcripts of the US Pledge of Allegiance, traditional marriage vows, and a last will and testament are “typed” on-screen as if being composed and revised in real time. Likewise, in Untitled (Artforum) (2016/2020), Kruger animates her original cover design for the celebrated art publication’s Summer 2016 issue. “Job Description,” a 1979 short prose piece by Kruger, is incrementally transformed into the meta-referential video installation Untitled (The work is about…) (1979/2020), which outlines the multiplicity of ideas and actions that can comprise the notions of engagement and labor.
The exhibition will coincide with a large-scale site-specific installation by the artist titled Barbara Kruger: Thinking of
You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. in the Marron Family Atrium of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, on view from July 16, 2022, to January 2, 2023. Kruger’s atrium commission is presented in conjunction with a major solo exhibition devoted to the artist’s work that was on view at the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 2021 and traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it is now on view through July 17, 2022.
Barbara Kruger June 30th—August 12th, 2022 at David Zwirner 519, 525 & 533 West 19th Street New York opening reception Thursday, June 30th, 6-8 PM
About the artist
Barbara Kruger was born in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey, and studied at Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design, New York. In 1966, she began working for Condé Nast in the design department at Mademoiselle, where she honed her fluency with pictures and words. In the ensuing decade, Kruger worked as a freelance picture editor and graphic designer for magazines and books. The artist’s work was first exhibited in the Whitney Biennial in 1973, and in the following year she received a solo exhibition at Artists Space, New York. Subsequent solo shows were held at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (1980–1981); Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles (1982 and 1983); the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1983); Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago (1984); and Mary Boone Gallery, New York (1987), among other venues. In 1985, her work was featured in a solo presentation at Monika Sprüth Galerie, Cologne, and shortly thereafter was included in the first of the gallery’s influential series of Eau de Cologne exhibitions featuring emerging contemporary female artists. Kruger has gone on to have a number of significant solo shows at Sprüth Magers.
In 1999–2000, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, organized a mid-career retrospective highlighting the artist’s work from 1978 to the present that traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Other significant solo exhibitions of Kruger’s work have been organized by the Palazzo delle Papesse – Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena (2002); Skarstedt Gallery, New York (2003, 2009); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2008–2011); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2010–2011); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2011–2012); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2013–2014); Modern Art Oxford (2014); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016–2017); and Amorepacific Museum of Art, Seoul (2019). In Berlin at the Neue Nationalgalerie, the solo exhibition Barbara Kruger: Bitte Lachen / Please Cry is currently on view.
Kruger has created a number of public installations that have appeared in museums, municipal buildings, train stations, and parks, as well as on buses and billboards. Site-specific projects by the artist include installations for the Public Art Fund, New York (1989, 1991, 1997, and 2000); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1990 and 2010); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2010); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2012); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014); Vancouver Art Gallery (2016); Metro Bellas Artes, Mexico City (2016); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018 and 2020); and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2021), among others.
In 2005, Kruger was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, where she was also commissioned to design the facade of Italy’s national pavilion. In 2019, the artist was awarded the Kaiserring (or “Emperor’s Ring”) prize from the city of Goslar, in Germany. An installation by the artist is presently on view at the 59th Venice Biennale.
Work by the artist is represented in international museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Broad, Los Angeles; Fonds régional d’art contemporain (FRAC) de Bourgogne, Dijon, France; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain, Nice, France; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Kruger lives and works in Los Angeles and New York.