Kara Walker

1969 | Stockton, United States
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Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Courtesy Victoria Miro

Sponsor
— Victoria Miro Gallery

American visual and multimedia artist.

After completing her BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) at the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, Kara Walker received her MFA (Master of Fine Arts) from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The same year, the resounding success of her exhibit at the New York Drawing Center launched her on the international art scene. Her work is inseparable from her status as a black artist. In a manner free of any taboos or false modesty, she deals with the most unpleasant aspects of racism and violence in American history. Her work makes use of the silhouette technique first used in the 16th century and further developed in the 18th century, but can also be traced back to Dibutades’ daughter, the “first” woman artist and legendary inventor of the painting, who outlined the silhouette of her lover on a rock. Her form of expression also draws from the 19th century panorama and cyclorama repertoire, Goya’s engravings, the pseudoscience of physiognomy, minstrel shows, or even the romance novel.

Since 1993-1994, her life-size figure installations occupy large walls, like frescoes, in unusual proportions for a practice normally devoted to miniatures (portraits). This scale is reflected in the title: Slavery! Slavery! Presenting a Grand and Lifelike Panoramic Journey Into Picturesque Southern Slavery or Life at “Ol’ Virginny’s Hole” (Sketches From Plantation Life, 1997). The artist condemns the exploitation, oppression of Blacks at the hands of Whites, as well as the hypersexualization of black women. Her work finds a natural extension in animated films (Testimony, Narrative of Negress Burdened by Good Intentions, 2004) and watercolours created since the late 1990s.

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Raphaël Cuir

Translated from French by Toby Cayouette.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart, 1994, cut paper on wall, installation variable dimensions, approx. 396.2 × 1524 cm, 156 x 600 in., installation view: Selections 1994, The Drawing Center, New York, 1994, © photo: Orcutt Photo, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Darkytown Rebellion, 2001, cut paper & projection on wall, 457.2 × 1005.8 cm, 180 × 396 in., installation view: Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2007, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, 2014, polystyrene foam, sugar, approx. 1082 × 792.5 × 2301.2 cm, A project of Creative Time, Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, NY, May 10 – July 6, 2014, © photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, 2014, polystyrene foam, sugar, approx. 1082 × 792.5 × 2301.2 cm, A project of Creative Time, Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, NY, May 10 – July 6, 2014, © photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Augusta Savage, 2010, unique ink transfer on paper, 110.8 × 183.5 cm, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On), 2000, cut-paper and projection on wall, dimensions variable, installation view: Moving Pictures, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2003, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Untitled, 2009, cut paper and collage on paper, 97.8 × 78.7 cm, 38.5 × 31 inches, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, Slavery! Slavery! Presenting a GRAND and LIFELIKE Panoramic Journey into Picturesque Southern Slavery or “Life at ‘Ol’ Virginny’s Hole’ (sketches from Plantation Life)” See the Peculiar Institution as never before! All cut from black paper by the able hand of Kara Elizabeth Walker, an Emancipated Negress and leader in her Cause, 1997, cut paper on wall, approx. 144 × 1020 in, 365.76 × 2590.8 cm, installation view: Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2008, © photo: Joshua White, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, That Thing, 2005, pencil on paper, 55.9 × 76.2 cm, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Kara Walker, The Palmetto Libretto (sketch for an American comic opera with Fort Sumter), 2012, pastel and graphite on paper, 4 parts, 104.25 × 295 in., overall (framed) 264.8 × 749.3 cm, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York, © Kara Walker

Kara Walker — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma at Teatro La Fenice, Venice Italy, a special project of the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. May 20 – June 6, 2015, Director, Art Director, Costume Designer: Kara Walker; Associate Director: Ann-Christin Rommen, © photo: Lucie Jansch, Courtesy Kara Walker & Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, © Kara Walker

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