Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) is a series of fifteen prints based on the two-volume anthology published in 1866. To create her prints, Walker enlarged select illustrations and then overlaid them with large stenciled figures. The shadowy images visually disrupt the original scenes and suffuse them with traumatic scenarios left out of the official record. Mangled and grotesque figures escape the boundaries of the anthology’s pictures, expanding into the margins and the space of real life.
Walker’s prints are presented alongside a selection of the original Harper’s images on which they are based. Seen together, the two bodies of work shed light on Walker’s artistic process and her approach to history as an always-fraught, always-contested narrative. Her ghostly scenes assert the influence of racial history on contemporary life and create a provocative dialogue between the past and the present.
Kara Walker: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) is organized by Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art.
Kara Walker: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the presentation in Washington, DC has been provided by Crown Equipment Exhibitions Endowment.