Art After 1980 Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1403 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Whereas McCarthy focuses his attention on the perversion of the world underlying the clean veneer of mythology, Kruger is far more concerned with the iconography of popular culture and the detrimental effect it has on humanity. The thesis of Kruger's work is that the modern era is so consumed with popular culture, that we have relinquished and claim to real culture. In her book Remote Control: Power, Cultures, and the World of Appearances, Kruger said, "To those who understand how pictures and words shape consensus, we are unmoving targets waiting to be turned on and off by the relentless seductions of remote control. We are demi-living proof that the video camera has replaced the mirror as the reflection of choice" (5). For Kruger, there is no delineation between high and low culture, good or evil, or any other dichotomy society tries to enforce on the general population.

Barbara Kruger's favored technique is to take classic photos from advertisement and lay them over with text to illustrate their innate hypocrisy. Many of her works are untitled because she wants each person to read their own message into the piece without the influence of a title. For example, in Figure 3, there is a picture of a face with smoke coming out, an obvious image from an old cigarette commercial. The face seems at peace and rested. Yet the words atop the picture in white lettering on a red field read "Who is bought and sold?" As a nation of consumers, we buy materials that we desire without consideration of the repercussions for that purchase. In the modern moment, we understand the health risk of smoking cigarettes and yet people still do it by the thousands. This piece illustrates the perspective that in purchasing the cigarettes, the person is in fact allowing the cigarette companies to purchase them, body and soul.

Another important theme in Kruger's work is the systematic gendering of the population through popular culture. In Figure 4, there is an adorable little boy trying to flex his muscles to impress a similarly adorable little girl. She is suitably impressed as she pokes his bicep and he makes a grimace indicating his strength and masculinity. Across this image are the words, in the same white lettering against red, "We don't need another hero." The picture seems to come from a 1950s advertisement, a time where the position of the little girl was to be in awe of the strong little boy, to grow up and eventually marry him and bear other adorable children who would carry on the stereotype of their gender. Kruger's art is feminist in nature and her attempts are to show the fallacy of gender stereotypes, especially as they are applied to the modern sensibility of woman and womanhood. The modern little girl does not need to look in awe at the little boy's muscles and, if she does, then she is trapped in an archaic gender role and has not been taught about what she is capable of .

Both Paul McCarthy and Barbara Kruger are contemporary artists and yet their work is extremely different. McCarthy thrives on chaos and disorder and forcing the population to face some of the less pleasant and far less palatable components of the human experience. He also forces other artists to question their place in the universe and the traditional pomposity of their profession. Kruger on the other hand has less interest in changing the world of art or in nauseating the public. Instead she wants to change the popular conception about consumerism and gender identity, which she links together as nearly synonymous issues. In both instances, the population accepts a set of ideas simply because they have been presented by the mass media enough times to leave a lasting impression. Both perspectives are important and both are indicative of the contemporary art movement.

Image Appendix:

Figure 1: Figure 2:

Figure 3: Figure 4:

Works Cited:

Kino, Carol. "Fairy Tales, but Strictly Adults Only." The New York Times. Nov. 2009. Print.

Kruger, Barbara. Remote Control: Power, Cultures, and the World of Appearances. USA: MIT.

1993. Print.

Robertson, Jean and Craig McDaniel. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art After… [END OF PREVIEW]

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