This project was prompted by the work of two significant contemporary artists, Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer.


Barbara Kruger is one of the most influential artists of the last three decades. She uses pictures and words in a wide variety of media and installation sites to raise issues of power, sexuality, and representation. Her works include photographic prints on paper and vinyl, etched metal plates, sculpture, video installations, billboards, posters, magazine and book covers, T-shirts, shopping bags, postcards and newspaper op-ed pieces.

Kruger’s artwork is philosophical and subversive. The work is bold--seemingly simple and effortless combinations of black and white images, many from ‘50s magazines. Thought-provoking texts catch the viewer off-guard and make one think hard about exactly what the artist is saying. Her themes range broadly over the spectrum of social disenfranchisement and human rights, focusing especially on women’s issues.

Interesting books on Barbara Kruger to have on hand, available through

Thinking of You, hardcover, 264 pages, $28.00.

Love for Sale: The Words and Pictures of Barbara Kruger,
paperback, 96 pages, $13.56.

Barbara Kruger work at a very useful contemporary photography site:
Lightsource—History of Photography

Lightsource, housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana, is an image database of 20th Century fine art photography. The images are indexed alphabetically by photographer, and organized into six genres that represent significant forms of 20th Century practice: documentary, landscape, figure, postmodern, text, and fabricated imagery.


The work of Jenny Holzer has been shown worldwide in prominent institutions. Holzer’s focus has been on words and on the investigation of means to disseminate her ideas within public space. Since the late ‘70s, she has been working in the street and in public buildings, using media that would enable her work to blend in with the urbanscape. From LCD displays (New York’s Time Square) to posters and stickers applied to such elements as telephone booths or parking meters, the texts function as comments on the environment they fit into, stimulating awareness of our social conditioning in the very sites in which we may be confronted by the behavior based on such conditioning.

Holzer’s Truisms can lead to very interesting conversations with students about their unexamined beliefs and expectations. Often, upon reflection, a Truism that seems utterly absurd when first read, is later understood as a part of many people’s belief systems, including one’s own.

A great looking list of many Jenny Holzer Truisms:

TRUISMS, an interactive Jenny Holzer piece presented by the Walker Art Center