Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Barbara Kruger... and bags

Kruger is a great artist to bring up, as her silkscreened work has appeared in many formats.

It also poses some interesting questions about context and substrate. For instance, how does this work of image-text commentary...

change when it's printed on a shopping bag or a canvas tote?

... does it operate any differently when it's adopted as witty packaging by department stores? Or printed on a canvas tote bag and sold as a consumer item for $30 by the Museum of Modern Art? Does this operate as infiltration or cooptation... or something else?

More on Kruger's practice of multiple-making in an excerpt from Jennifer Roberts' essay in Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 244:

The techniques of photolithography and screenprint are ideally suited to Kruger's strategies of appropriation and replication of imagery from mass culture, and they are used throughout her work, whether large-scale and unique, or ephemeral and printed in thousands of copies. Her ephemeral works, which dramatically fulfill the democratic potential of printmaking to bring art to wide audiences, range from book, magazine, and compact disc covers to matchbooks, coffee mugs, and shopping bags. It is noteworthy that visual strategies she appropriated from the mass media have been returned to their sources on covers she created for such magazines as Newsweek and Esquire. In addition, countless graphic designers have adopted her visual style.

A rare example of her venturing into the area of the traditional limited edition is her illustrated book My Pretty Pony by Stephen King, part of an innovative project pairing artists and writers, established at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Unsurprisingly, the book is also available in a trade edition version for greater accessibility.


Two other interesting takes on the artist-designed shopping bag can be found in Jeremy Deller's and Franco B's commissioned projects, the contexts of which are described HERE.

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