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Barbara Kruger, the evils in the image

The American conceptual artist, known for her textual photomontages, continues to brilliantly question social stereotypes, the diktats of beauty, and the consumerism of society.

Years pass, eras mark history, and Barbara Kruger’s work remains relevant today. If the critical charge of this postmodern feminist artist has influenced the art of the end of the 20th century, her gaze continues to sound the alarm, combining past and present for a future that seems frozen in patriarchal poncifics. The Sprüth Magers Gallery in Los Angeles presents recent and emblematic works by Barbara Kruger, linked to several events: her floor installation at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the installation for the 59th Biennale de Venise, and the exhibition “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As always with this pioneer, large-scale art dominates the space. The triptych “Never, Perfect, Enough” looks at women’s impossible ideals of perfection where curlers and hairpins make her incisive words wield. If her photomontages have often been limited to red, black, white, she chooses here the color code red, green, blue (RGB).


So, it is still about that. From the curlers to the injunctions, the 77-year-old artist scans the prevalence of this desperate aesthetic quest, while pushing her reflection. Through this smiling model, taken in profile and from the back on a large format, she refers to the diagrams of phrenology, a pseudo-scientific theory of the 19th century, in which the shape of the human skull is supposed to reflect the character and mental capacities. Barbara Kruger again asserts this male will “to divide, categorize and control,” while associating her analysis to the imperatives of “beauty and its punitive regimes.” The gallery completes the visit with a series of collages, when she worked as art director for Mademoiselle magazine, and iconic works such as “Your gaze hits the side of my face” and “Your body is a battleground.” This wide-ranging panel shows how this leader relentlessly questions the viewer about power structures, manipulation, and the massification of contemporary cultural practices.

Until July 16, 2022 at Sprüth Magers Gallery, Los Angeles

Nathalie Dassa