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Ilya Iosifovich Kobakov. Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project, 1998. Etching. Sheldon Good Family Charitable Foundation 2000-9-1
Ilya Iosifovich Kobakov. Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project, 1998. Etching. Sheldon Good Family Charitable Foundation 2000-9-1
Ilya Iosifovich Kabakov
1998

24 x 18 inches

The child of Ukrainian Jews, Ilya Kabakov fled the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine in 1941 and began a life of displacement, exclusion, and exile. In the 1950s he studied graphic art and worked as a book illustrator under official Soviet patronage. During the 1960s and '70s he became a leader of a group of censored underground artists in Moscow that included Vitali Komar and Alexander Melamid, who also achieved recognition in the West. Kabakov moved to Paris in the late 1980s and to New York several years later, where he became known as the "father of Russian conceptualism."

Kabakov's works reflect his experience in the former Soviet Union, a modern superpower founded on the utopian ideals of Marxism, which eventually disintegrated. Absurdity and disjunction characterize his paintings and installations. He explores the distance between public and private life under Soviet rule; the disparity between Marxist ideals and the drab reality of daily life; the unique space in which "underground" artists existed, simultaneously cut off from official Soviet socialist realism and emerging postmodernism in the West; and the gap between the imagined Western audience and the disappointing first encounters with it.

Drawing on his own earlier graphic work as well as reflecting the ironic contradictions of Dada artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, Kabakov in Woman as Fountain: Courtyard Sculpture Project proposed a waterless fountain in the shape of a woman for a future public sculpture.

Text by Brenda Mitchell, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

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Barbara Kruger. Untitled (You Rule by Pathetic Display), 1982. Photo offset lithograph, serigraph. 73 x 49 inches. Art Acquisition Fund 1986-36-1.
Barbara Kruger. Untitled (You Rule by Pathetic Display), 1982. Photo offset lithograph, serigraph. 73 x 49 inches. Art Acquisition Fund 1986-36-1.
Barbara Kruger
1982

73 x 49 inches

​Born in Newark, New Jersey, Barbara Kruger attended Syracuse University and Parsons School of Design. Her early experience in advertising and design for publications such as Mademoiselle and Aperture is readily apparent in her later art.

In this example, Kruger combines text and image to incite the viewer. In contrast to her contemporary Jenny Holzer, who uses text alone, Kruger juxtaposes well-known phrases and appropriated image in a style reminiscent of Dada photomontage, but with a seamless presentation and a feminist political agenda.

Like advertisements, Kruger's posters are easily produced and displayed; her work has appeared not only in private galleries and museums but also on billboards, where it is available to a wider audience. Kruger incriminates the viewer by addressing him or her directly ("You rule by pathetic display"). In this way she prompts the questions "Who rules?" and "Who wields the knife?"

In other untitled works, such as those presenting the phrases "I am your immaculate conception," "Your gaze hits the side of my face," and "We will no longer be your favorite disappearing act," images and words suggest gender relations in which "I," "my," and "we" appear to be female, while "your" is male. The text allows her audience, both male and female, to try on the roles themselves.

Text by Amy M. Kuhl Cox, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008