The images are innumerable and overused. Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and Richard Prince originally built their universes on poor pictures cut from newspapers.
Barbara Kruger was working as a graphic designer for a fashion magazine. In the early 1980s she wants to share her vision of the unlimited lie of postmodern social life. She photographs her collages made of bad pictures of magazines, often torn and reassembled, on which she adds an incisive slogan.
Her early sentences are hermetic. The widespread use of You, We, or I applied to undefined groups encourages the observer to think about the balance of powers in the modern world. He expects a link between the image and the slogan, and its absence reinforces his discomfort.
The slogans soon become more familiar, based on well-known utterances understandable by anybody and diverted against the consumer society : 'Your fact is stranger than fiction', 'I shop therefore I am'.
'When I hear the word culture I take out my checkbook', 350 x 170 cm made in 1985, was sold for $ 900K including premium by Christie's on November 8, 2011 over a lower estimate of $ 250K.
As early as 1982 'We have received order not to move' is a cry against the oppression of women. 'We' appears as the identification of women as opposed to the society whose rules have been established by and for men.
On June 27 in London, Sotheby's sells a photo 187 x 124 cm printed in 1984 including the threatening slogan 'We are public enemy number one', lot 194 estimated £ 180K. In this image the human form is not identifiable : character or shadow, face or back, man or woman.
SOLD for £ 220K including premium