Object: Untitled [We are unsuitable for framing]
This image is All rights reserved. Image © Barbara Kruger. Reproduced courtesy of Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Please follow the Buy or license link under each image to apply to use this image. (Charges may apply)
Why you need to apply for the use of this image
Rights for this work may be:
- controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or
- unclear - Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or
- covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.
You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use this image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of this image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.
More information about copyright
We recommend these resources for more information:
- Copyright in NZ - Ministry of Economic Development
- Copyright guidelines and resource - Lianza
- Enabling use and re-use - Digital NZ
Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned.
Get in touch
Please contact email@example.com
- if you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, or
- if you wish to contact the rights holder for this work. We will assist where we can.
|Title||Untitled [We are unsuitable for framing]|
Kruger, Barbara (artist), 1985, United States
|Medium summary||photographic screen print on acrylic|
|Materials||perspex, printing ink|
|Classification||screen prints, black-and-white prints, works of art|
|Technique||screen printing, montage|
x 2423mm (Length)
|Credit line||Purchased 1986 with New Zealand Lottery Board funds|
Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (We are unsuitable for framing) repels even as it asks to be looked at. The enlarged image of an unsmiling woman covering her eyes with one arm, the other curled up defensively, closes the viewer out. On its own, the image is ambiguous, but Kruger’s addition of the slogan ‘We are unsuitable for framing’ implies active defiance. Together, image and text suggest that the woman depicted is unwilling to be a passive object for consumption or display.
Kruger studied briefly at Parsons School of Design in New York in 1965, then went on to work as designer, art director and picture editor for magazines such as Mademoiselle, House and Garden and Vogue. Her early career, when she was honing her aesthetic sensibility amid the mechanisms of consumer culture, was a formative experience from which much of her subsequent work is derived. By the early 1980s Kruger had gained prominence as an artist through her work using images culled from magazines and newspapers overlaid with slogans to make posters, billboards, t-shirts and even matchbooks. Later she went on to create large-scale multimedia installations.
Kruger asks viewers to ‘consider the pictures that bombard their lives and tell them who they are’.1 To do this she uses the dramatic language and suggestive imagery of the mass media against itself. Her statements — ‘We won’t play nature to your culture’, ‘Your manias become science’, ‘I shop therefore I am’ — address the viewer directly, creating a shifting relationship between the possibilities of the viewer’s position as the ‘I’, the ‘you’, the ‘we’. Kruger’s intention is to disrupt the unquestioning gaze, jolting us into active looking that challenges the status quo. In art and advertising women have often been displayed as objects of desire for the male viewer. In Untitled (We are unsuitable for framing) Kruger’s subject resists the acquisitive gaze.
In 1988 a show of Kruger’s work, including Untitled (We are unsuitable for framing), was held at Shed 11, the National Art Gallery’s off-site exhibition space on the Wellington waterfront. The exhibition was both popular with visitors and well received by critics, indicating that Kruger’s seductive and unremitting work resonated widely.
This essay appears in Art at Te Papa (Te Papa Press, 2009)
1. Barbara Kruger, cited in Carol Squires, ‘Diversionary (syn)tactics’, ARTnews, vol. 86, no. 2, February 1987, p. 85.
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.