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No Radio

Left image:
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (No Radio), 1988
photograph and screenprint in painted wood artist's frame Dimensions 51 1/4 in. x 68 1/4 in. x 1 3/4 in. (130.18 cm x 173.36 cm x 4.45 cm)
Credit: The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Copyright: © Barbara Kruger
Permanent URL: Link
Right image:
Anatomy of the Heart, 1890 is a painting by Enrique Simonet (slightly cut)

Barbara Kruger was born in Newark in 1945. In 1965 she began her studies at Syracuse University, Syracuse, which she continued in 1966 at Parsons School of Design in New York. In the sixties and seventies she worked as a graphic designer for the American fashion magazine „Mademoiselle“. In 1980 she received a scholarship at PS1 (Project Studio One), New York. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

In 1972 Barbara Kruger began to create montages of images and texts from advertising photos. She uses reproductions of black and white photographs for her works, on which the printing grid is clearly visible due to the high magnification. The photographs, taken from advertising or newspapers, are superimposed with words and texts in red. The work is framed by an artist’s frame, also in red. The texts are written by Kruger herself or are recruited from phrases, aphorisms or even slogans from the pop scene. In most cases, the texts are addressed directly to the viewer. This corresponds to Kruger’s conception of the tasks and possibilities of her art, with which she wants to draw attention to social and societal conditions in an awareness-raising and enlightening way. Therefore, the radius of her artistic activity is not limited to the presentation in galleries or museums: she also distributed her works on posters, postcards, T-shirts or billboards. In this way, she also gives expression to her understanding of the art market as a microcosm of larger economic contexts. (1)

Shao-Chien Tseng in her article “Scenes of Pain: Barbara Kruger’s Depiction of the Social Body” aptly describes the picture, “In the late 1980s, Kruger was involved in a sustained dialogue with medical imagery to produce scenes of pain. The work No radio of 1988 appropriates a nineteenth-century engraving which depicts a mysterious theater of anatomy lessons. Instead of the male patient or cadaver conventionally featured in this theme, we see a beautiful, yet dead, female body lying on a bed with the sheets covering her genitals, legs, and left chest, from which the heart has just been cut out. Her right arm and long hair droop elegantly, and her slightly open mouth seems to take a last breath.

A male doctor is calmly holding up her heart to study it, a knife still in his other hand, and the jars on the windowsill imply the function of preserving the organ. Into this chilling and perverse scene, Kruger inserts words in bright red—“No Radio”—just above the body. This phrase, commonly used by American car owners to deter burglars, makes the body analogous to a machine, and suggests the notions of violation and theft. The woman’s heart is stolen and the integrity of her body is lost. Here we see the borders of pain as the woman’s pain recedes from life to death.” (2)

(1) Barbara Kruger
(2) Shao-Chien Tseng, “Scenes of Pain: Barbara Kruger’s Depiction of the Social Body” in The Changing Body: Concepts and Images of the Body in Western Art, ed. Tzeng Shai-Shou, 209-237. Taipei: SMC, 2004.

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No Radio

Barbara Kruger was born in Newark in 1945. In 1965 she began her studies at Syracuse University, Syracuse, which she continued in 1966 at Parsons School of Design in New York. In the sixties and seventies she worked as a graphic designer for the American fashion magazine „Mademoiselle“. In 1980 she received a scholarship at PS1 (Project Studio One), New York. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

read more »

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