- Barbara Kruger
- Untitled (Provenance)
- photographic print on vinyl
Barbara Kruger rose to fame through the 1970s and 1980s for her distinctive artistic vernacular. Today Kruger's art work is instantly recognizable with her provocative pairings of found images overlaid with bold confrontational text that appear in immersive multi-channel videos and room wrapping installations. Her work is imbued with a fascination for the relationship between consumption and culture. Having worked as a graphic designer and picture editor for magazines including Mademoiselle and House and Garden in the 1960s and 1970s, Kruger expertly fuses avant-garde art and consumer culture in her artistic practice.
Kruger, who sits on the board of trustees at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, has a long history with the museum. In 1990, MOCA took on one of their most significant artist commissions to date when they asked Barbara Kruger to design a monumental mural which eventually covered the south wall of the Temporary Contemporary for an impactful two years. Nearly a decade later, in 1999, Kruger’s first major retrospective was held in this very same warehouse (which has since been renamed The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA).
In the present work, Untitled (Provenance), which was generously created and donated by the artist expressly for this auction, the artist addresses the current state of the art world and its present market conditions head on. Borrowing what appears to be imagery from an advertisement for paintbrushes, Kruger evokes a traditional notion of the role of the artist’s hand and brush in art production. She then challenges the viewer by assertively overlaying bold red text atop this appropriated photograph which reads: Overrated, Underrated, Speculated, Donated. With this, Kruger calls direct attention to the social, cultural, and political context in which Untitled (Provenance) was conceived in a way that marks its supreme success as an exemplar of her distinctive output.