For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Untitled (We Don’t Need Another Hero) by Barbara Kruger.
About the Work
Title: Untitled (We Don’t Need Another Hero)
Artist : Barbara Kruger
Year : 1987
Medium : screen print on vinyl
Dimensions : 108 7/8 × 209 3/16 × 2 1/2 in. (276.5 × 531.3 × 6.4 cm)
Location : Whitney Museum of American Art
We Don’t Need Another Hero
Like most of Barbara Kruger’s work, this piece makes a statement that can be heard loud and clear. Using one of the classic all-American vintage images used for advertising, it features a young boy of about 10 flexing his biceps with a smug expression, while his older sister looks on. One can guess if the advertisement was for a health drink or for vitamins – in either case the sexism that was subtly portrayed was loud and clear. The relationship distinctions between the two siblings is apparent and the image fails to portray the otherwise existing camaraderie that might have been.
It is exactly these nuances and these cultural aspects of society that are deeply embedded that Kruger picks up on along with her ongoing critique of a consumer society. Her background in advertising and media, along with her strong root sin graphic design has propelled her work further.
The hallmark of her work is confrontational assertions that present an expose of the substrata of arranged lies beneath. Her scathing remarks are towards exposing the stereo types in society. The nature of her statements that are an integral part her work have naturally led her audience to interpret her work as politically charged. Kruger however, finds the political label often attached to her work problematic.
“I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are, what we want to be and who we become.”Barbara Kruger
The using of images that are prevalent largely for use – Barbara uses to make a statement about the very images that the society uses for consumption. Her imagery is accessible and less abstract and has a high impact.
Barbara Kruger continues to create works that compel thought about what we as a society of consumers of products as well as ideas and imagery, because these are a part of a larger whole. Her discussion includes current obsession with social media and the body image issues.
To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.