Barbara Kruger, Belief+Doubt, 2012, Installation view, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC. Photo by Cathy Carver. Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers.
(Boston, MA—September 20, 2022) On November 3, 2022, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) will debut a new, site-specific commission by Barbara Kruger (b. 1945 in Newark, NJ). For over 40 years, Kruger has been a consistent, critical observer of contemporary culture. Her distinct visual language uses bold textual statements and images taken from mass media to create significant artworks that investigate ideas of power, identity, consumerism, and gender. At the ICA, Kruger will transform the first-floor lobby’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall into a monumental, thought-provoking installation that comments on the key issues of our era while reimagining one of her most iconic images. The riveting new work, Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, will be on view through January 21, 2024, in a presentation organized by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator.
“Barbara Kruger creates some of the most powerful artworks of our time, using her distinct combination of text, scale, and design to chart a journey from familiarity to eye-popping awareness. At the ICA, all visitors will encounter her monumental installation in our glass-enclosed lobby, a free and open public space,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director.
“The ICA installation draws on Kruger’s decades-long practice of creating large-scale installations of her text-based art, transforming spaces with her signature aesthetic and pointed content. Continuing in this vein, her brand-new work for the ICA will speak, as her work has done for many years, to issues of war, women’s rights, and power, and ultimately to question authority,” said Erickson.
In the early 1980s, Kruger perfected a signature style of words and images extracted from mass media and recomposed into memorable, graphic artworks. In this new commission for the ICA, Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, Kruger uses the wall’s unique architecture to create a bold work featuring three distinct areas of text and image combinations. The largest text—”Another hope, Another fear”—in Futura bold (the artist’s typeface of choice) exemplifies Kruger’s incisive ability to evoke the emotional tenor of our time, a parade of daily hopes and fears fueled by an unceasing newsreel and media feeds. By repeating and replacing words, Kruger creates a cadence of text that cascades across the wall. Another area of the installation displays phrases in graphic black-and-white bands that repeat the word “war”—“War time, war crime, war game”—before turning into the phrase “War for a world without women.” The effect of these phrases pivoting around “war” is to reveal the interrelationships or power. In the concluding phrase “War for me to become you,” Kruger has crossed out the pronouns, confounding clear notions of who is speaking and resisting any univocal position.
The final element restages the text from one of Kruger’s best-known works, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989, which she originally produced as a poster for the women’s march in Washington, D.C. to protest new laws limiting women’s access to healthcare. In this 2022 version, she changes both image and font, overlaying text on top of a black-and-white photograph of a face. Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, reflects Kruger’s signature style while revealing her breathless and ongoing innovation of text and image. This newest work confirms Kruger’s status as one of the sharpest respondents to contemporary culture.
The ICA’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is dedicated to site-specific, commissioned works by leading contemporary artists. Located within the museum’s glass-enclosed lobby, the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is the visitor’s first encounter with art upon entering the building.
The ICA Store has collaborated with Kruger to develop exclusive merchandise including a t-shirt, tank top, and tote bag featuring the “Your body is a battleground” motif from the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall. Available only at the ICA. More details will be available soon on icastore.org.
Media and visitors are encouraged to use #BarbaraKruger in their social media posts.
About the artist
Kruger lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY. She studied at Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design, New York. Solo shows include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2022), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2022), The Art Institute of Chicago (2021), AMOREPACIFIC Museum of Art, Seoul (2019), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016), High Line Art, New York (2016), Modern Art Oxford (2014), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2013), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2011), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2010), Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2005), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1999), Serpentine Gallery, London (1994), Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal (1985) and Kunsthalle Basel (1984). Group shows include those at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2021), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2018), V-A-C Foundation, Palazzo delle Zattere, Venice (2017), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014), Biennale of Sydney (2014), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2013), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2010), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010, 2009, 2007), Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2006), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2004), Tate Liverpool (2002), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1988) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1987). Her is also currently on view in The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2022), curated by Cecilia Alemani.
About the ICA
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener. Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.