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Friday, December 1, 2023

Barbara Kruger – Institute of Contemporary Art Boston | 03.11.2022-21.01.2024

Editors’ Choice

On 3 November 2022, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) will present a new site-specific commission by Barbara Kruger (b. 1945 in Newark, NJ). For over 40 years, Kruger has been a consistent, critical observer of contemporary culture. In her distinctive visual language, she uses striking textual statements and images from the mass media to create significant artworks that explore ideas of power, identity, consumerism and gender.

Image above: Barbara Kruger, Belief+Doubt, 2012, Installation view, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC. Photo by Cathy Carver. Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers. 

At the ICA, Kruger will transform the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall in the first floor foyer into a monumental, thought-provoking installation that comments on the key issues of our time while reinterpreting one of their most iconic images. The compelling new work, Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, will be on view until 21 January 2024 in a presentation organised by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator.

“Barbara Kruger creates some of the most powerful artworks of our time, using her unique combination of text, scale and design to embark on a journey from familiarity to breathtaking awareness. At the ICA, all visitors will see her monumental installation in our glass foyer, a free and open public space”

Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director

In the early 1980s, Kruger perfected his own style of taking words and images from mass media and recombining them into memorable graphic artworks. In his newly commissioned work for the ICA, Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, Kruger uses the unique architecture of the wall to create a bold work that encompasses three distinct areas of text and image combinations. The largest text – Another hope, Another fear – in Futura bold (the artist’s preferred font) exemplifies Kruger’s incisive ability to evoke the emotional tenor of our times, a parade of daily hopes and fears fuelled by incessant newsreel and media coverage. By repeating and replacing words, Kruger creates a cadence of text that cascades across the wall. Another section of the installation shows sentences in graphic black and white bands repeating the word “war” – “War time, war crime, war game” – before transitioning into the phrase “War for a world without women”. The effect of these phrases revolving around the word “war” is that they reveal the context or power relations. In the final phrase, “War for me to become you”, Kruger has crossed out the pronouns, confusing clear ideas about who is speaking and resisting any clear position.

“The ICA installation draws on Kruger’s decades-long practice of creating large-scale installations of her text-based art that transform spaces with her signature aesthetic and pointed content. Her brand new work for the ICA will, as it has for many years, address themes of war, women’s rights and power, ultimately challenging authority.”


The final element recreates the text from one of Kruger’s best-known works, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989, which she originally made as a poster for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., to protest new laws restricting women’s access to health care. In this version from 2022, she changes both the image and the font, overlaying the text with a black and white photograph of a face. Untitled (Hope/Fear), 2022, reflects Kruger’s signature style and reveals her breathless and continuous innovation of text and image. This latest work confirms Kruger’s status as one of the sharpest responses to contemporary culture.

The ICA’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is dedicated to site-specific commissions by leading contemporary artists. Located in the museum’s glass lobby, the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is the visitor’s first encounter with art as they enter the building.

About the artist

Kruger lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY. She studied at Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design, New York. Solo exhibitions: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2022), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2022), The Art Institute of Chicago (2021), AMOREPACIFIC Museum of Art, Seoul (2019), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016), High Line Art, New York (2016), Modern Art Oxford (2014), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2013), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2011), Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2010), Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2005), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2000), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1999), Serpentine Gallery, London (1994), Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal (1985) and Kunsthalle Basel (1984). Group exhibitions include Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2021), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2018), V-A-C Foundation, Palazzo delle Zattere, Venice (2017), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014), Biennale of Sydney (2014), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2013), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2010), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010, 2009, 2007), Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2006), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2004), Tate Liverpool (2002), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1988) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1987). She is also currently featured in the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2022) curated by Cecilia Alemani: The Milk of Dreams.

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared with its audiences the joy of reflection, inspiration, imagination and provocation that contemporary art offers. As a museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has developed a bold vision to amplify the voice of the artist and expand the museum’s role as facilitator, instigator and organiser. Its exhibitions, performances and educational programmes provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to share in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128.


Exhibition dates: Thursday, 3. November 2022 until Sunday, 21. January 2024


Institute of Contemporary Art
25 Harbor Shore Drive
Boston, MA 02210

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