Barbara Kruger: Thinking of
You. I Mean Me. I Mean You
edited / essays by Peter Eleey, Robyn Farrell, Michael Govan, James Rondeau, Zoé Whitley, and more
published by Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and DelMonico Books – DAP
Barbara Kruger’s retrospective has been calling to me from afar, and I was able to buy the book to read up in advance of seeing it!
Kruger’s most famous past works are widely recognized for their iconic consistency: a bold, black and white image with direct, engaging, nearly accusing Future Bold Oblique text on a high-contrast (often red) background. (I can just say, “Your Body is a Battlefield,” and the image will pop into your head!) She’s done much more with words, and I’ve had the pleasure of exploring a room wrapped in her power-questioning, engaging, accusatory texts.
This book features a significant amount of engaging, unsurprisingly bold, unsurprisingly relevant new works by Kruger, plus excellent essays about her and the ongoing relevance of the questions her work asks. Her work quotes Orwell, mocks the powerful, and challenges our willingness to be reduced from active citizens to consumers. The essays approach her challenges to us from different angles, quote James Baldwin, ask about our tendencies to judge, discuss empathy and contempt, and are thoughtful throughout.
The collection of recent work includes long walls/rooms of text, and it’s great to have them in book form to be able to take the time to read them all the way through.
It also comes with homework! There’s a collection of essays at the end which are presented as a sort of “syllabus” to the lessons we could be learning from all of this.
It’s a great book – not just in content, but also in form! The covers are boldly printed book-board with a printed fabric spine, and all the fore-edges are painted the same green as her work (and the x’s on the cover). I appreciate the boldness of the design.
This book is HIGHLY recommended if you love: Barbara Kruger, well-produced art books, text art, and concise, incisive cultural commentary.