On August 20, The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum opens Belief + Doubt, an installation by much-imitated and internationally renowned artist Barbara Kruger. The work extends throughout the lobby, covering the walls, floor, and escalators with text in Kruger’s usual style, mixing influences from advertising and Soviet Constructivism. Kruger’s bold imagery is imitated everywhere in posters, advertising campaigns, and magazines. Here are five facts to know about her:
1. Kruger’s professional career started at Condé Nast, working as a graphic designer for Mademoiselle.
2. Her signature style contrasts provocative white-on-red text with black and white appropriated images to make pointed social and cultural critiques. She often uses personal pronouns that include the viewer; for example, “You Are Not Yourself.”
3. Often grouped with other feminist artists, Kruger designed Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground) for the 1989 March on Washington in support of legal abortion.
4. She is responsible for the W magazine cover featuring a nude Kim Kardashian and strategically placed ruminative text.
5. Graphic designer and street artist Shepard Fairey, widely known for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster from the 2008 election, names Kruger as one of his biggest influences. Fairey told Juxtapoz, “My OBEY type logo and the Supreme logo were inspired by Kruger’s work. I owe my red, black, and white color palette to Russian Constructivism and Barbara Kruger.”