(American, born 1945)
Untitled (A picture is worth more than a thousand words), 1992
photographic silkscreen on vinyl, 82 x 123 inches
Artwork courtesy of the Artist and Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Barbara Kruger’s art employs techniques of visual communication derived from advertising and mass media, which she learned early in her career as a designer for Condé Nast Publications. By collaging declarative statements with photos culled from magazines and other pop culture sources, she creates provocative juxtapositions with multiple meanings. This billboard-sized work addresses the persuasive power of images in our society. It depicts a man cutting a strip of movie film, a gesture emblematic of the construction and manipulation of images, which Kruger feels has often been controlled by men. The photograph of a film editor is particularly poignant as it also evokes the notion of covert control through censorship, a recurring subject for the artist and her peers since the early 1980s. While the phrase “a picture is worth more than a thousand words” may seem to favor images over the written word, the meaning of this work is conveyed not by the image alone, but, ironically, through the forceful union of picture and words.
I’m interested in how identities are constructed, how stereotypes are formed, how narratives sort of congeal and become history. . . Direct address has motored my work from the very beginning. I like it because it cuts through the grease. It’s a really economic and forthright approach to the viewer. It’s everywhere and people are used to it.
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