Barbara Kruger : Art History Archive

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According to the Art History Archive, Barbara Kruger is an American conceptual artist born in Newark, New Jersey in 1945. She attended Syracuse University in 1964 where her interests in graphic design, poetry, and writing developed. A year later, Kruger moved to New York and attended Parsons School of Design where she was exposed to the creative spheres of photography, fashion, and editorial design. In 1966, she left Parsons to work for Condé Nast Publications and soon after began to work at Mademoiselle magazine where she was promoted to head designer. Throughout her professional career, Kruger worked as a graphic designer, art director, and picture editor for various publications including House and Garden and Aperture. Kruger’s…show more content…
The red text box is the focal point of the work and takes up about one-fourth of the composition. Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am) is a visually simple but bold work that evokes postmodern themes including media, popular culture, and consumer cultures. The daring and aggressive red text box draws the viewer’s eye directly to the bold phrase in white font. “Kruger reformulated René Descartes’ philosophical proposition of cognitive existence, ‘I think therefore I am’, into a motto for the hyper-ventilated acquisitive world of the 1980s boom time…” (Engberg). Descartes’ theory implies that as long as an individual is simply thinking there is an active engagement that is occurring that justifies a meaningful existence. Thus, thinking gives substance to an individual’s life. By replacing the word “think” with the word “shop” Kruger is making a social commentary on society’s shift from cognitive value to material value and exposes the tie between consumer culture and personal identity. We are no longer defined by what we think but by what we buy; as a result, our culture has become so overwhelmed with materialism that people have become more reliant on the products that they buy and the materials that they own to define who they are. The contrasting themes of intellectual value versus material value in Kruger’s work instigates the viewer to

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