Barbara Kruger (born 1945) is an American conceptual artist.
She was born in Newark, New Jersey and left there in 1964 to attend Syracuse University. After a year at Syracuse, she moved to New York, where she began attending Parsons School of Design. She studied with Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel, who, as a graphic designer and art director for Harper's Bazaar in the 1960s, introduced Kruger to photographers and fashion/magazine sub-cultures. After a year at Parsons, Kruger left school and started to work at Mademoiselle magazine as an entry-level designer.
Much of Kruger's graphic work consists of black-and-white photographs with overlaid captions set in white-on-red Futura Bold Oblique. The phrases included in her work are usually declarative, and make common use of such pronouns as "you," "I," "we," and "they." The juxtaposition of Kruger's imagery with text containing criticism of sexism and misogyny and the circulation of power within cultures is a recurring motif in the work.
For the past decade Kruger has created installations comprised of video, film, audio and projection. Enveloping the viewer with the seductions of direct address, her work is consistently about the kindnesses and brutalities of social life: about how we are to one another.
"Kruger's works are direct and evoke an immediate response. Usually her style involves the cropping of a magazine or newspaper image enlarged in black and white. The enlargement of the image is done as crudely as possible to monumental proportions. A message is stenciled on the image, usually in white letters against a background of red. The text and image are unrelated in an effort to create anxiety by the audience that plays on the fears of society." (H.W. & A.F. Janson, History of Art)
In 2005 Kruger was honored at the 51st Venice Biennale with the "Golden Lion" for Lifetime Achievement. Kruger is currently a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.