Untitled (I shop therefore I am)


Serigraph on vinyl in artist's frame

280 x 283 cm (110 1/4 x 111 7/16 in.)

Like her fellow artists and countrywomen Cindy Sherman and Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger came to the forefront of the American art scene during the 1980s. Trained as a graphic designer she develops an original artistic vocabulary and creates a style that would soon become her signature: She uses old black and white magazine photographs that, in her words, she intercepts, rephotographs and enlarges. She then associates these images with slogans inspired by advertising and the consumer society presented in white letters on a red background.

The limited range of colors, the typography and the dynamic tension between verbal and visual language situate Barbara Kruger within the Russian and German avant-garde photomontage tradition dating back to the period between the two world wars. In Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am) the simplicity of the image serves to accentuate the violence of the text. Morphing into « I shop therefore I am » the Cartesian proposition « I think therefore I am » becomes devoid of meaning. Using caustic humor Barbara Kruger questions the viewer on his or her place in modern society while cultivating an increasing and redeeming awareness.

Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am) was first shown in 2006 at the Where Are We Going? exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, in Venice.