CHICAGO—The Art Institute of Chicago is pleased to announce Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You., a major solo exhibition devoted to the work of renowned artist Barbara Kruger. On view at the Art Institute of Chicago from November 1, 2020 through February 14, 2021, the exhibition will encompass four decades of the artist’s practice—the largest and most comprehensive presentation of Kruger’s work in twenty years. Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. is organized with MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Hayward Gallery, London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
One of the most significant and visible artists of our time, Barbara Kruger is renowned as a curious consumer and an incisive critic of popular culture. Using direct address as a rhetorical strategy to undermine and expose the power dynamics underscoring identity construction, desire, and consumerism, Kruger’s rigorous interrogations of social relations and the cruel constancy of stereotypes are imbued with humor and empathy. This exhibition will explore the full range of Kruger’s unparalleled practice, offering an unprecedented opportunity to reconsider the work of this groundbreaking artist whose influence and vital presence in our culture is now indelible, and whose voice remains resonant, courageous, and crucial.
Developed in close collaboration with the artist, Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. encompasses the full breadth of the artist’s career, from her early and rarely seen paste-ups of the early 1980s, which reveal her analog process, to her digital productions of the last two decades. Most notably, the exhibition upends the conventions of the typical retrospective in which loaned works are assembled as static artifacts of various moments in an artist’s career, by also featuring new works that reevaluate and reanimate earlier works for the current moment. In so doing, the artist presents her own history and reconceptualizes her earlier work anew.
“Kruger’s enduring subject is power as product, both in terms of the anonymous collective machinations of social control and its accumulation and abuse by singular worthies,” said James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute, “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. is, in Kruger’s words, an ‘anti-retrospective,’ an exhibition that pushes against the notion of a career as a relic or chronological checklist.”
Designed with the artist, the exhibition activates the Art Institute’s spaces, including large-scale vinyl room wraps, multichannel videos, and installations in the Regenstein Galleries, and extending throughout the museum and outside to the building’s façades. Kruger’s recent work grapples with the accelerated ways in which images and words flow through contemporary culture, and for this exhibition, she re-envisions her iconic black-and-white montages in a series of videos that “replay” her renowned imagery. An audio soundscape extends throughout the exhibition and museum. Other new works conceived specifically for the exhibition include a video installation comprising found online footage, Instagram posts, and the artist’s own texts and an intervention in the gallery that addresses changing conventions of museum display and viewership.
Extending beyond the museum walls, Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.transforms the city’s billboards, CTA buses, and fare cards.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a generously illustrated catalogue designed by Inventory Form & Content (IN-FO.CO) in partnership with Kruger, published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and distributed by DelMonico Books/Prestel. The catalogue will feature essays by exhibition curators from Chicago, New York, London, and Los Angeles, as well as reprinted texts specially selected by the artist.
“Kruger’s work is about media-making and making-meaning. She has deployed her images throughout the cultural systems of representation and the structures of power that contain and construct our daily lives. Here, she re-envisions the retrospective itself, by replaying her work in the present,” said Robyn Farrell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Institute.
BARBARA KRUGER: THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU. is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre, London; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. At the Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition is co-curated by James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, and Robyn Farrell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. At MoMA PS1 and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the exhibition is organized by Peter Eleey, Chief Curator at MoMA PS1. At Southbank Centre, London the exhibition will be organized by Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery. At LACMA the exhibition is organized by Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, and Rebecca Morse, Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography.
Image: Barbara Kruger.