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Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats, from the portfolio Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)

2005 Kara Walker Born: Stockton, California 1969 LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University (Printer) LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University (Publisher) offset lithograph and screenprint on paper 39 x 53 in. (99.1 x 134.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment © 2005 Kara Walker 2008.19.1.1 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

For her series Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), Kara Walker appropriated and enlarged select illustration from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, a two-volume publication of 1866. She chose fifteen wood engravings, enlarged them through offset lithography, and overlaid them with large, black stencils. Walker’s signature silhouettes interrupt and transform the nineteenth-century narratives of battle, death, and retreat in these large-scale prints. According to the artist, the Civil War prints from Harper’s “are the landscapes that I imagine exist in the back of my somewhat more austere wall pieces,” namely the large black silhouette compositions for which she is best known.
Walker’s scenes are set in the American South before and during the Civil War. They play off stereotypes to portray, often grotesquely, life on the plantation, where masters and mistresses and slave men, women, and children enact a subverted version of the past. Walker suggests a critical understanding of the past and proposes an examination of contemporary racial and gender stereotypes.

Multiplicity, 2011

Keywords

Ethnic - African-American

History - United States - Civil War

graphic arts - print

paper

offset lithograph

screenprint