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Bold graphic text in three lines that reads "Thinking of You / I Mean Me / I Mean You" in all caps, the first "You" and the "Me" x'ed out in green. Text lines alternate white on black, black on white, and white on black in three bands. Bold graphic text in three lines that reads "Thinking of You / I Mean Me / I Mean You" in all caps, the first "You" and the "Me" x'ed out in green. Text lines alternate white on black, black on white, and white on black in three bands.

BARBARA KRUGER

Exhibition

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For more than 40 years, American artist Barbara Kruger has been a consistent, critical observer of the ways that images circulate through our culture.

Black and white text covers the walls and floor of a room. On the wall directly in front of us, in what appears to be a convex oval lens are the words "You. You are here, looking through glass, darkly. Seeing the unseen, the invisible, the barely there. You. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Etched in memory. Until you, the looker, is gone. Unseen. No more. You too."

Untitled (Forever), 2017


Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Timo Ohler and courtesy of Sprüth Magers

Combining images with provocative text, Kruger uses direct address—along with humor, vigilance, and empathy—to expose and undermine the power dynamics of identity, desire, and consumerism. As shrinking attention spans collide with the voyeurism and narcissism that define contemporary life, her immersive installations and widely circulated pictures and words invite us to reconsider how we relate to one another.

Two light-skinned hands, with just the cuff of a suit jacket visible on the left wrist, hold and twist a piece of paper or fabric with the word "truth" in red capital letters. The background of the image is a bright green and the whole thing is border in a thin red line.

Untitled (Truth), 2013


Digital image courtesy of the artist

THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU. encompasses the full breadth of her career—from early and rarely seen “pasteups” (works that use an analog technique for physically arranging a page’s contents with manual “cut and paste”) to digital productions of the last two decades. The presentation includes works on vinyl, site-specific installations, animations, and multichannel video installations.

The exhibition is not, however, a retrospective. Challenging notions of career building and a strict chronology, Kruger has reenvisioned the retrospective itself by rethinking, remaking, and replaying her work over the decades for the constantly moving present.

Graphic rendering in red and gray of an open corridor with a bench. Walls at left and right bear the repeated image of a hand holding a credit card eblazoned with the works of artist Bakbara Kruger in a haphazard checkerboard pattern. At the end of the corridor is a similar image flanked by two doorways. The card there reads, “I Shop Therefore I Am.”

Artist’s rendering of exhibition entryway at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2011/2020


Courtesy of the artist

The exhibition at the Art Institute—collaboratively designed with the artist—interrogates the specific cultural context of our museum, as it transcends the traditional exhibition space and extends into the museum’s public spaces and the city beyond. Kruger’s work not only fills the entirety of the museum’s largest exhibition space, the 18,000 square-foot Regenstein Hall, but also occupies Griffin Court—an 8,000-square-foot atrium running the length of the Modern Wing—with new site-specific work. Kruger’s text and images address both the architecture and relational spaces throughout the museum—from the windows in the historic Michigan Avenue building and the Modern Wing to various public spaces, some of which will also feature an ambient soundscape. Kruger will additionally engage the surrounding cityscape, creating work for billboards, the Chicago Transit Authority, and Art on theMART, among other locations and organizations.

Exhibition Guide

Download this map of the museum to see the various locations Kruger’s work can be found.

ACCESSIBILITY OFFERINGS

Visual descriptions of works included in the exhibition can be found below. Press the play button to hear the audio, or click on the page icon for the transcription.

Please also note that some artworks in the exhibition feature flashing lights and spaces that may be experienced as high sensory. 

  • This exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

    Sponsors

    Lead individual support for THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU. is generously provided by Liz and Eric Lefkofsky.

    Lead foundation support is generously provided by Caryn and King Harris, The Harris Family Foundation.

    Major funding is contributed by the Society for Contemporary Art through the SCA Activation Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Margot Levin Schiff and the Harold Schiff Foundation, Shawn M. Donnelley and Christopher M. Kelly, Constance and David Coolidge, and the Auxiliary Board Exhibition Fund.

    Additional support is provided by Helyn Goldenberg and Michael Alper and the Susan and Lewis Manilow Fund. 

    Members of the Luminary Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor, Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris, Josef and Margot Lakonishok, Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy, Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel, Anne and Chris Reyes, Cari and Michael J. Sacks, and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.

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