Barbara Kruger. Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece). 1982

Barbara Kruger

Untitled (You Invest in the Divinity of the Masterpiece)


Not on view
Photostat, mounted and framed
71 3/4 x 45 5/8" (182.2 x 115.8 cm)
Acquired through an anonymous fund
Object number
© 2015 Barbara Kruger
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Barbara Kruger has 28 works online.
There are 2,104 paintings online.

Kruger has appropriated a well–known passage from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, where the creation of man is represented through the touch of God's finger to Adam's. Combining a black–and–white reproduction of this painting with text, she draws a parallel between the Biblical creation story and that of a lauded masterpiece of Western painting. Kruger's background in graphic design is evident in the way she boldly overlays the clipped image with her aggressive text. By using the word "You," Kruger implicates us in continuing patriarchal narratives of religion and art history.

Gallery label from What is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection, July 7–September 17, 2007

Additional text

In this striking composition, Kruger uses Michelangelo’s masterful rendering of the creation of man in the Sistine Chapel as a backdrop for her razor–sharp text. Kruger constructs a parallel between the biblical creation story, represented by the delicate touch of God's finger to Adam's, and that of a masterpiece of Western art. She expertly contrasts the strident, direct address of the text with the soft luminosity and heavenly focus of Michelangelo’s fresco. The potent intersection of text and imagery suggests that art is a secularized religion that can be bought and sold, provided we believe in its immortality. By using the pronoun "you," Kruger implicates us within the system that peddles faith in the artist.

"I had to figure out how to bring the world into my art," Kruger has said. Adopting the language of advertising and graphic design (her former profession), she came to prominence in the 1980s, a period defined by rampant consumerism in the United States, distilling images and words into compelling missives in which visual culture is never distant from the political, sexual, and economic structures that inform our lives. Kruger's projects have been displayed on billboards, buses, and bus stops and as posters, large-scale murals, and architectural commissions.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 23

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053;; Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124;;

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to