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‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum Ocula Report ‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum 19 Jul 2019 : Penny Liu for Ocula

An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...

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Mandy El-Sayegh: Productive Ambiguity Ocula Conversation Mandy El-Sayegh: Productive Ambiguity

Moving across installation, painting, drawing, and writing, Malaysia-born and London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh explores the political, social, and economic complexities of humanity, using a mosaic of information—from advertising slogans and pornographic imagery to newspaper articles—that she subjects to processes of layering,...

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Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House Ocula Report Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House 5 Jul 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...

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Barbara Kruger

(1945 - 1945), USA

The work of Barbara Kruger, with its black-and-white photographic images overlaid with declarative statements in Futura Bold typeface on black, white or red text bars, is as distinctive for its graphic qualities as it is for its directness of message. From the mid-1990s, Kruger began producing large-scale, immersive works, many of which have been exhibited in public spaces such as train stations, municipal buildings, billboards, and buses. Confronting viewers with bold imagery and short, pithy statements, her work brings power into question by using still images to mobilise the polemics of her textual provocations. Kruger's choice of aphoristic language will often point to the constructions of identity, both collective and individual, through her use of the pronouns 'our', 'we', 'you', 'I' and 'they'.

Following her graduation from Parsons School of Design in New York in 1966, Kruger worked as a graphic designer for Condé Nast. It was around this time that she produced her earliest works, in the form of large-scale woven wall hangings fashioned from diverse materials such as ribbon, feathers, yarn, sequins, and beads. For Kruger, the use of these materials was a way of reclaiming and re-evaluating craft's relegation to a position lower than that of so-called fine art. Amongst the work produced during this time were items sewed, crocheted, and painted in high key colour, combined with erotic and suggestive objects.

In 1976, Kruger relocated to Berkeley, California. While there she taught at the University of California, finding inspiration in the theoretical writings of Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin. After a brief hiatus from art making, she took up photography in 1977, taking shots of architectural exteriors before pairing them with text-based ruminations on the buildings' occupants. 1979 saw the publication of her artist book, Picture/Readings. Kruger's pre-digital monochrome images of this period, commonly referred to as her 'paste ups', display the impact of her work as an editorial designer for magazines.

It was during the early 1980s that Kruger made the transition to her much celebrated practice of collaging, as we now know it today. Her method consists of developing compositions digitally on a computer, and later transposing the billboard-sized images on to various surfaces. Kruger's 1989 poster for the Women's March on Washington, in support of legal abortion, features the face of a woman bisected into negative and positive exposures on either side. The accompanying text, 'Your body is a battleground', signals the heated contestation around women's reproductive rights that had heightened in the wake of new anti-abortion laws. The following year Kruger deployed the same slogan for a billboard commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio.

Many of the artist's slogans such as 'I shop therefore I am'—a play on philosopher Rene Descartes' famous statement 'I think, therefore I am' (Cogito, ergo sum)—evince her interest in feminist identity politics as they relate to patriarchy and capitalism: both structures of power and dominance so often internalised and propagated by their victims.

In 2005, as part of the 51st Venice Biennale, Kruger installed a digitally printed vinyl mural across the façade of the Italian pavilion, dividing it into three parts—green (left), red (right), white (centre). In both Italian and English, the words 'power' and 'money' crept up the portico's columns. On the left wall there was the statement, 'Pretend things are going as planned,' while 'God is on my side; he told me so' fills the right. That same year, Kruger received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.

Kruger's works are in major museum collections worldwide, including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

John Mutambu | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled (Stripe 2) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (Stripe 2), 2019 Digital print on vinyl
243.8 x 197.5 cm
Sprüth Magers
Untitled (Speak for yourself) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (Speak for yourself), 1988 Photograph
73 x 63 cm
Hauser & Wirth
Untitled (IF YOU WANT A PICTURE) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (IF YOU WANT A PICTURE), 2017 Print on vinyl
274.3 x 170.2 x 5.1 cm
Sprüth Magers
Untitled (Believe/Commit) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (Believe/Commit), 2019 Print on vinyl
243.8 x 254 cm
Sprüth Magers
Untitled (Never Enough) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (Never Enough), 2016 Vinyl
397.5 x 1443.4 cm
Sprüth Magers
Untitled (I WIN YOU LOSE) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (I WIN YOU LOSE), 2017 Print on vinyl
260 x 364 cm
Sprüth Magers
Untitled (Busy going crazy) by Barbara Kruger contemporary artwork
Barbara KrugerUntitled (Busy going crazy), 1989 Photograph
181.4 x 129.5 x 4.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Eau de Cologne at Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Closed
26 March–12 April 2019 Group Exhibition Eau de Cologne Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Barbara Kruger, FOREVER at Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Closed
16 September 2017–20 January 2018 Barbara Kruger FOREVER Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Black Feast at Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Closed
17 March–22 April 2017 Group Exhibition Black Feast Simon Lee Gallery, New York

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Ocula Conversation Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Founder, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo started collecting contemporary art in 1992, after graduating from Torino University, where she studied business and economics. She began her collection with four works from the late-1950s and early-1960s by Italian artists: Carla Accardi, Tano Festa, Mario Merz and Salvatore Scarpitta. 'I enjoyed the idea of...

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In Related Press

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Kara Walker, Barbara Kruger, and Charles Atlas Dissect Modernity Related Press Kara Walker, Barbara Kruger, and Charles Atlas Dissect Modernity Hyperallergic : 7 May 2018

LOS ANGELES — Art is humanity's attempt to articulate life's intangible experiences. That idea is reflected in the title of Unspeakable, a new exhibition at UCLA's Hammer Museum. Museum director Ann Philbin and chief curator Connie Butler have created a trilogy of video installations from the Hammer Contemporary Collection, each projected in...

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Books, Wefts, and Black Lives Matter at the Baltimore Museum of Art Related Press Books, Wefts, and Black Lives Matter at the Baltimore Museum of Art Hyperallergic : 27 May 2017

Like the Baltimore Museum of Art's books, Louise B. Wheatley's textiles and Pendelton's mixed-media ventures pack a punch (actually, hers is more of a lingering touch). With her, you don't see it coming; with him, you can feel the vibrations down the block. Her mists/his missiles, resounding, both.

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Barbara Kruger: back to the futura Related Press Barbara Kruger: back to the futura Dazed Digital : 12 October 2016

Barbara Kruger’s art hits you like a punch to the jaw. You’ve seen her work, even if you’ve never been to one of her shows – photography overlaid with coloured boxes filled with bold white Futura Oblique, or caps locked sans serif text that bears down at you from gallery walls and the sides and roofs of buildings. It’s...

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A celebration of women who made it to the top of the art world Related Press A celebration of women who made it to the top of the art world Hyperallergic : 19 August 2016

The current show at Sprüth Magers gallery, Eau de Cologne, has a title that might seem like a play on the words (that’s what I initially thought), but it is actually quite straightforwardly unironic. It is simply the name of the art magazine published by Monika Sprüth between 1985 and 1989 that presented interviews with and essays about...

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