los-angeles

Barbara Kruger

New Museum

The problem with mounting a retrospective of Barbara Kruger’s art is that “art” gets misleadingly emphasized. That artist is now just one of several occupations notched on Kruger’s résumé—graphic designer and media critic are among the others—is a fact MOCA has bravely tried to own up to, even though doing so has led to some pretty absurd curatorial moves. For example, standing in one pristine gallery is a Plexiglas vitrine safeguarding a tastefully arrayed sampling of Kruger-designed coffee mugs, notepads, and umbrellas, the very same merchandise stocked in bulk and available for purchase in the museum’s gift shop downstairs.

Threaded together by a few product-ID traits (the red-and-black color scheme and Futura-bold typeface), Kruger’s output eagerly migrates across media, discourses, and sites, and a similar shape-shifting has come to characterize the voice it projects as well. In the

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