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Barbara Kruger Returns to London with a Bold and Unforgettable Retrospective

Barbara Kruger Returns to London with a Bold and Unforgettable Retrospective

Barbara Kruger has made a stunning, highly acclaimed return to London. Marking her first institutional exhibit in London in more than two decades, the retrospective, Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You is currently on display at Serpentine, the 50+ year-old, pioneering, London-based art institution. Known for her bold use of words and images—largely influenced by her early work as a graphic designer for magazines—Kruger’s work takes on subjects ranging from class and gender to consumerism and politics. The Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation is the lead sponsor of this significant and impressive show.

“I fell in love with art in large part because of Barbara’s work,” says Sue Hostetler Wrigley. “Her astute commentary on consumer culture, identity, and politics was so eye-opening and audacious to me as a 21-year old, but it was her critique of the constructs of power and her feminist imagery that had the most long-lasting impact on me. Barbara is an icon to me—and her work has gone on to influence a generation of younger artists like Lorna Simpson, the Guerrilla Girls and Shepard Fairey.”

Serpentine CEO Bettina Korek is thrilled the institution she helms was able to play a part in bringing Kruger back to London. “It has been an honor for Serpentine to collaborate with [Hostetler Wrigley] on Barbara Kruger’s first institutional exhibition in London in more than 20 years,” she says. “This simply would not have been possible without the Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation and their championship of women and of women artists in particular.”

The exhibit is comprised of a selection of installations, as well as moving-image works and soundscapes. The show also features the UK premiere of Kruger’s immersive video installation of Untitled (No Comment) (2020), which combines text, audio clips, found images, and memes to dive into how we create and consume content online. Kruger—known for presenting works on unusual canvases including buildings, buses, and skate parks—has adapted her pieces to the Serpentine location, both inside and outside the space. “The arrival of a show like Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. in London is long overdue, yet right on time,” says Korek. “The meaning and message of Barbara Kruger’s work is timeless, yet it feels as though there has never been a more important time than now for this important work to be amplified around the world—and what better stage is there to play a part in this process than London?”

The presentation and overall experience of the show is bold, loud, and in-your-face, taking the viewer through an audio and visual experience that questions, demands, and stuns. There are audio snippets playing immediately upon arrival, screens in every gallery, and words scrolling down walls, across the floors, and around the rooms. The exhibition also extends beyond Hyde Park, with the work being wrapped onto black cabs across London, as well as on the large screens of Outernet Arts, near Tottenham Court Road station.

This retrospective of Kruger’s work does not disappoint, addressing countless relevant and timely issues and leaving the viewer with plenty to ruminate on long after leaving the gallery.

Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.
runs through Spring, 2024.

Serpentine continues its collaboration with Barbara Kruger with Silent Writings (2009/2024), on view at Outernet Arts, The Now Building, Centre Point, London, from March 4 - April 22.

Published February 2024