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Barbara Kruger, who is known internationally for her text-based works that convey aphorisms about consumer culture and political issues in bolded lettering, made headlines last year when she joined the mega-gallery David Zwirner. Now, after heading to one of the world’s biggest galleries, she’s going to have one of the largest shows of her career.
On November 1, a major survey of Kruger’s work will open at the Art Institute of Chicago. Titled “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.,” it will feature four decades’ worth of art and is expected to be the biggest Kruger show in 20 years. Between 1999 and 2000, the artist had a mid-career retrospective that first opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York.
Rarely seen works created by the artist in the early 1980s will be included in the Art Institute of Chicago retrospective, along with new pieces. The exhibition was designed in collaboration with the artist, and its iteration in the Windy City will span the museum’s interior and exterior spaces, with multi-channel videos and large-scale installations among the offerings. Additionally, an audio soundscape will reach throughout the museum. Kruger’s presence will also be felt throughout the city of Chicago, with her work reflected on billboards, buses, and public transit fare cards.
Kruger is best-known for her works making use of sans-serif text that recalls advertising. Often associated with the Pictures Generation, a group that rose to fame during the early 1980s for work that meditated on the endless flow of mass-produced imagery, Kruger frequently alludes to the ways that mass media degrades women. Among her most famous recent works is a cover for New York Magazine in which she superimposed the word “LOSER” over a photograph of Donald Trump’s face.
Beverly Pepper, a sculptor of elegantly crafted steel works that appear to gently rise upward, has died. The New York Times, which first reported the news, said that she died at her home in Todi, Italy. She was 97.
At venues around the world, but primarily in Europe and the United States, Pepper exhibited her majestic, abstract steel works in outdoor settings. They are typically monumental in scale, with some even extending hundreds of feet long, and they appear to swoop, arc, and spiral, often transforming viewers’ perception of the surrounding landscape in the process. Her sculptures are now permanently installed in locations as diverse as Barcelona, Milwaukee, Dallas, Todi, and Vilnius, Lithuania, among other places.
Speaking to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in an oral history, Pepper explained the key differences she saw between painting, which she studied, and sculpture, the medium for which she would devote her career to using: “A painting has one view. You stand in front of a painting. My sculpture is an attempt to give you a different experience as you move around it. So you have unpredictability, which is something I really try to nurture in my work.”
The heaviness and the largeness of Pepper’s large-scale sculptures has caused some observers to note how her work seemed to exist in opposition to what was expected of women artists during the 1960s. At the time, Minimalism was taking hold in New York, and its purveyors were mainly white men who crafted gigantic, cold-blooded formal experiments. Female artists were believed to create “softer” work on a smaller scale. “I never thought of myself as a ‘female sculptor,’” she said in a 2014 interview with the Sunday Telegraph in 2014.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 – 18:00 – 20:30Project IMage:
Botanical illustrations from Wikicommons, published under Creative Commons license
Francesco Bonami, whose curatorial credits include the 2003 Venice Biennale and the 2010 Whitney Biennial, has returned for the fourth edition of his column, “Ask a Curator,” in which he addresses the problem with museum wall text, the worst studio visit he ever endured, and the craziest thing he saw on Instagram this month. He can be found on Instagram at @thebonamist. If you have queries for him for a future column, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. —The Editors of ARTnews
What’s the most awkward or strange studio visit you ever experienced?
When we were doing studio visits for the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Gary Carrion Murayari and I arrived in the studio of a woman in Portland, Oregon, that was totally empty except for a small couch where a small piece of knitted wool was resting. We asked what her art was about, and if the couch and/or the knitted wool were artworks. The answer was no. We then asked what she was working on, and she answered, “Nothing in particular.” Any projects? “Not really,” she said. We stood there—there was nowhere to sit but the floor—in silence for maybe a minute that felt like it lasted an hour, and then we politely said goodbye. Both Gary and I are still figuring out who suggested to visit her. When we remember (and we will), we will send over a couple of friends from the Irish or Italian mob to deliver our studio critique.
What do you say to people who claim curators fly too much in a way that is bad for the environment?