Barbara Kruger - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Description

    PLAYTIME 玩樂時間

  • Provenance

    Sprüth Magers Gallery, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    Scottsdale Center for the Arts, MUSEUM IN THE MAKING: Selections from the Janssen Collection of Fine Art, 7 May - 27 August 1995

  • Catalogue Essay

    “All art contains a politic, as does every conversation we have, every deal we make, and every face we kiss. Whether producing collectively or individually, we are responsible for the meaning which we create. I see my work as a series of attempts to ruin certain representation, to displace the subject and to welcome a female spectator into the audience of men.”
    (Barbara Kruger, quoted in Masako Kamimura, ‘Review: Barbara Kruger: Art of Presentation’, Woman’s Art Journal, vol. 8, no.1, 1987, pp. 40-43).

    Untitled (Shove it, starve it, blind it, choke it, drown it, shame it, buy it, fuck it) is a powerful example of American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger’s distinctive artistic vernacular that deconstructs the worlds of advertising and mass media. The provocative pairing of found images with bold confrontational text creates a powerful critique on the system of power and challenges themes of corruption, sexism and consumerism. Drawing on the aesthetics of graphic design, advertising, magazines and album covers, Kruger’s emphatically visual practice challenges the manipulative nature and ingrained misogyny of capitalist marketing to compel ethical change and reflection.

    John Baldessari
    Prima Facie: Splendid/Focused/
    , 2005
    Phillips London 10 March 2017
    Lot 128
    Kruger studied at Parsons School of Design before starting a career at Condé Nast Publications in New York in 1966, where she became the head graphic designer for Mademoiselle magazine a year later. After more than a decade of intense involvement with print media, Kruger has developed her trademark style of a provocative interplay of text, image and typography: incorporating found images from an immense archive of books, old advertisement and magazine clippings she has accumulated over the years, cropped and reformatted to create the background imagery and overlaid with text in her signature Futura Bold Oblique font. With notable contemporaries like Jenny Holzer and Cindy Sherman, working at the intersection of art and mass media, this group of artist uses images and language to construct a feminist critique on the prevailing issues of sexuality, representation and subjectivity. Arguably the most explicitly feminist of the group, Kruger’s practice makes commentary and language an implicit part of her visual offering. It recalls John Baldessari’s enigmatic text and image works that explore the hidden cultural connotation behind a particular verbal or facial expression. Kruger offers a distinctive feminist lens through the short bursts of words and catchy phrases used to convey witty and sharp remarks on the tribulation of modern life, reminding viewers how words and pictures reinforce gender stereotypes that infiltrate our daily lives through the myriad expressions of the mass media.

    Jenny Holzer
    Red Yellow Looming, 2004
    Phillips London 2 October 2019 Lot 35

    Barbara Kruger
    Untitled (Connect), 2015
    Phillips New York 21 September 2018 Lot 19
    This is the first time for Kruger’s work to be presented at auction in Hong Kong. The present lot is a seminal work from the early 1980s, with each lenticular photograph alternating between black-and-white images and bold texts in coloured boxes as the viewer shifts between perspectives. Purposefully arranged to achieve a synergy of visual impressions, the lenticular aspect opens up multiple interpretations that invites the observer to comment on the ideology, taste, stereotype and power that governs society. Simultaneously challenging and subjugating the spectator, the underlying artistic statement powerfully alludes to the positioning of the female subject within the discourse of a patriarchal culture. Kruger believes that “any discourse or any political movement which does not take feminism into consideration is complicit,” the interchanging messages such as ‘if it screams’ and ‘shove it’ prompt the viewers to consider the unequal positions occupied by female and their male counterparts. It insinuates the tendency to silence a female voice when it becomes vocal and seen. At the same time, it gives the spectator the power to choose how the message is read and through which it allows Kruger to create an empowering device that bestows the female voice with authority.

    Andy Warhol
    Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962
    Collection of the Museum of Modern Art
    © 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation / ARS, NY / TM
    Licensed by Campbell's Soup Co. All rights reserved.
    Kruger’s timeless style continues to evolve overtime, using her most well-known format to comment on the highly digital environment we inhibit by incorporating popular contemporary cultural symbols such as iPhone, emoji and reality TV into her lexicon. Underlining the connection between the social issues of today and of the past, Kruger notes that “things are like they were but multiplied in terms of the intensity of commodity culture and how the digital world has intensified that to a certain degree” (Barbara Kruger quoted in Christopher Bollen, ‘Barbara Kruger’, Interview Magazine, 13 February 2013, online). Just like Warhol’s ubiquitous Campbell Soup cans, the prevalence of her visual language is perfectly suited for widespread diffusion that would make one feel automatically acquainted with her trademark graphic statement. In a similar statement made by Warhol that “pop artists did images that anyone walking down the street would recognize in a split second,” Kruger’s style has extended beyond the institutional forms into mainstream, underground and digital culture, which has been replicated by musicians and modern brands, and even inspired the entire brand identity of the skate brand Supreme.

    Supreme logo
    Kruger’s rigorously composed icons work well on any scale, and have been installed in public spaces in addition to notable international institutions, including the Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Arario Museum in Space, Seoul; Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo. She has represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and 2005, and won the Leone d’Oro for lifetime achievement. In 2021, the Art Institute of Chicago will unveil a major retrospective to present four decades of Kruger’s work.

Property of an Important Private International Collector


Untitled (Shove it, starve it, blind it, choke it, drown it, shame it, buy it, fuck it)

lenticular prints in artist's frames, diptych
each 55.8 x 198.1 cm. (21 7/8 x 77 7/8 in.)
Executed in 1986, this work is number 4 from an edition of 6.

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for HK$2,250,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 8 July 2020