Barbara Kruger

By Melanie Begeman

Quick Facts

Barbara Kruger was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1945

Her father was a chemical technician and her mother was a legal secretary.

She went to Syracuse University in 1964, then moved to New York in 1965 to attend Parsons School of Design. Soon she developed an interest in graphic design and poetry - eventually combining these two interests to become a photographer.


After graduating from Parsons, she got a job at Condé Nast Publications in 1966. She quickly moved up the ranks and was promoted to head designer after working there for only 1 year.

After working at Condé Nast Publications, she went on to work as a graphic designer, art director, and picture editor. She also built a reputation designing book jackets and magazine layouts. After experimenting with photography and art, she became dissatisfied with her work and moved to teach at University of California in 1976.


After taking up photography again, she published a book titled Picture/Readings (1979). Shortly following its publication, she gave up on taking her own photographs and instead decided to edit other photos she found in the media, with words pasted over them as a type of social commentary.


Her photography displays powerful messages about feminism and social justice. They are generally black and white with creative editing and text over them in red. Her subjects encompass themes such as: religion, sex, racial and gender stereotypes, consumerism, corporate greed, and power.

Because of her liberal ideals and call for social justice, Barbara Kruger is truly inspirational. Her messages are being heard all over the world, and have been recognized when she won the MOCA Award (2001) and Leone d'Oro Lifetime Achievement Award (2005)


Her work has been described as "Short machine-gun bursts of words that when isolated and framed by Kruger's gaze, linger in your mind, forcing you to think twice, thrice about cliches and catchphrases, introducing ironies into cultural idioms and the conventional wisdom they embed in our brains." (Rosenbaum, 2012)

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman

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By Melanie Begeman