Washington, DC—The striking works of Barbara Kruger (American, b. 1945) will be featured in a focused exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, timed to celebrate the newly renovated East Building galleries. On view September 30, 2016, through January 22, 2017, In the Tower: Barbara Kruger is the first exhibition in the Tower Gallery in three years, renewing the series devoted to the presentation of works by leading contemporary artists. The exhibition presents fifteen of Kruger's profile works — images of faces and figures in profile over which the artist has layered her attention-grabbing phrases and figures of speech — from the early 1980s to the present, varying in scale from magazine-size to monumental.
Inspired by the Gallery's recent acquisition of Kruger's Untitled (Know nothing, Believe anything, Forget everything) (1987/2014), the exhibition centers on the artist's profile works, among her strongest commentaries on cultural production. They present Kruger's distinctive direct-address texts (using active verbs and personal pronouns) that confront the viewer head-on and contrast with the underlying images of (mostly passive, often female) figures looking off the picture plane, and receiving or denying the viewer's attention. This tension creates conceptual works of great visual power.
Kruger's works are by turns so strong, shocking, or humorous that they grab the viewer's attention. This is due to her signature style which includes pronouncements printed in white Futura Bold Italic typeface across red bands reminiscent of the Life and Look magazine banners from the golden age of picture magazines. Kruger's text slashes the black-and-white images beneath, effectively shattering the clichés represented in both words and images. Using the language, color, image, and scale derived from the media-saturated world she queries, Kruger's work illuminates and interrupts cultural tropes to encourage an active visual readership.
"Barbara Kruger's profile works count among her most iconic images," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. "We are delighted to present to our visitors from around the world this exhibition featuring such an outstanding artist."