Saturday, August 14, 2010

The once and future Barbara Kruger ignites Guild Hall

Barbara Kruger installation, Thomas Moran gallery, Guild Hall
Still subversive after all these years: Barbara Kruger at Guild Hall (Aug 14-Oct 11) has electrified the gallery floors, ceilings and walls of this historic institution like never before. In her signature style, Kruger incites a kind of declarative poetry that is subversive and hypnotic. Evoking a sort of group swoon -- her installation is dizzying, provocative and very black and white.

Although her career began back in the 70s, (she was in the 1973 Whitney Biennial) Kruger really burst on to the scene in the 1980s with what would become her signature agitprop style of seductive epithets and savage quips. 

Part cultural critic, part pissed off feminist, Kruger became the voice of a generation that looked askance at the rhetorical nature of advertising, consumerism, corporate greed and racial and gender stereotypes. Her works seemed to have unlimited power to expose truth, often with shocking clarity. One of her best known pieces, Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am), 1987 seemed both an indictment of American culture and a feminist call to arms. "Barbara Kruger is one of the most important artists of her generation," said Guild Hall curator, Christina Moussaides-Strassfield. "It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with her on this exhibit. It's everything I thought it would be, and more."  
Throughout the last three decades, Kruger's terse vernacular and pertinent observations have made the world sit up and ask, "Who's in charge here?" At Guild Hall, she reasserts her relevance.

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