Barbara Kruger - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Monika Sprüth, Cologne
    Sale: Christie’s, New York, Contemporary Art, May 12, 2005, lot 453
    Mary Boone Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Vienna, Galerie Peter Pakesch, Mike Kelley, September – October 1989
    Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Zeitsprünge: Künstlerische Positionen der 80er Jahre, January 17 – February 28, 1993 Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Family Values: Amerikanische Kunst der Achtziger und Neunziger Jahre: Die Sammlung Scharpff in der Hamburger Kunsthalle, February 1997 – February 1998
    Durham, Nasher Museum of Art, The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1990, October 24 – December 31, 2011; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, January 21 – April 15, 2012

  • Literature

    R. Gassen, Zeitsprünge: Künstlerische Positionen der 80er Jahre, Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, 1993, p. 59 (illustrated)
    C. Heinrich, Family Values: Amerikanische Kunst der Achtziger und Neunziger Jahre : Die Sammlung Scharpff in der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Ostfildern-Ruit, 1996, pp. 61 and 67 (illustrated)
    A. Goldstein and R. Deutsche, Barbara Kruger, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), 1999, p. 133 (illustrated)
    U. Grosenick and B. Riemschneider, eds., Art at the Turn of the Millennium, Cologne, 1999, p. 291 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Untitled (You Can’t Drag Your Money Into The Grave With You), 1990, in its monochromatic background and bold red text, explores and engages in a series of battles: pleasure versus pain, black versus white, masculine versus feminine. A pair of freshly polished unworn men’s dress shoes lies abandoned on a bed of unkempt grass. The sleek leather glimmers at the toes, as an unidentified light source illuminates the hyper-masculine props. The rigid forms set against the soft natural grass, is the first visual contradiction; there is something arresting about the well-made men’s shoes that excites and provokes the viewer. A kind of pleasure is derived from the man-made product that both thrills and terrifies. While the work is subtle in composition, the confrontational caption, “You Can’t Drag Your Money Into The Grave With You,” participates in the strategies and agendas of commercial media, and is perhaps even more persuasive than the proverbial messages scrawled across advertisements. The precision of the words probes the viewer to wonder whether this visceral statement is personally applicable.

    Barbara Kruger’s signature black and white photographs, overlaid with bold Futura typeface, create mesmerizing associations between image and text. Beginning with advertising imagery drawn from the 1940s and 1950s, Kruger aggressively foregrounds a visual style that permeates magazines, newspapers, movies, and even early TV. The emergence of these conceptual works coincides with a profound change within the culture wars of the 1980s. Using the semiotics of advertising to provoke and question the profit motives of desire, Kruger’s bold canvases act within the tradition of memento mori, bringing our attention to the fleeting nature of life. The scale of Untitled (You Can’t Drag Your Money Into The Grave With You), 1990, matches the height of the billboards which populate and fill the visual spaces of our cities. But in Untitled (You Can’t Drag Your Money Into The Grave With You), 1990, it is the juxtaposition of the words and image that imbue the work with omnipotence; the sleek surface of the
    shoes entices, while the words remind us of our consumerist tendencies and dependence on materialism in the modern world. “I think that all sorts of art activities, whether written, played, or visualized, are attempts to send messages from one person to another. I don’t think of it as news but rather as a kind of condensed communication conveyed with a deep and starling economy.” (Barbara Kruger, “Interview with Barbara Kruger by Lynne Tillman,” in Barbara Kruger, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999, p. 192).

  • Artist Biography

    Barbara Kruger

    Cool yet critical, Barbara Kruger’s advertising-influenced conceptual works address and challenge cultural constructions of power, identity, consumerism, and sexuality through their aggressively direct interrogations of the iniquities of modern life. Often employing the use of direct address and inclusive personal pronouns such as “I,” “you,” and “they,” Kruger’s aphorisms are unspecific and all-encompassing; the accusatory ambiguity of Kruger’s artworks unflinchingly implicates the viewer, society, and the artist herself for the omnipresent societal sins of our time.

    Kruger’s work is deeply ironic and thoroughly anti-hierarchical, criticisms delivered through a panoply of media for indiscriminate and immediate reception. Her moralizing messages, memento mori for the digital age, have been featured on museum walls as well as on t-shirts, billboards, and the façade of an infamous Frankfurt department store; they have become so ubiquitous that they seem to emanate from inside of our own consciences. Kruger has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Untitled (You Can't Drag Your Money Into The Grave With You)

photographic silkscreen on vinyl
109 x 148 3/4 in. (276.9 x 377.8 cm)
Signed “Barbara Kruger” on the stretcher.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 May 2012
New York