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Kara Walker

American

1969, Stockton, Central

Biography

New York-based artist Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigations of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide.

She is the recipient of many awards, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. In 2012, Walker became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her major survey exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, was organized by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where it premiered in February 2007, before traveling to ARC/ Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth.

In spring 2014, Walker’s first large-scale public project, titled 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, was on view at the abandoned Domino Sugar refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Commissioned and presented by Creative Time, the project—a massive sugar covered sphinx-like sculpture—responded to the troubled history of sugar and reclaimed this burdened site with a majestic marker of self-possession. Other commissions by the artist include The Katastwóf Karavan, a steam powered calliope wrapped in silhouetted tableaus depicting scenes of dehumanizing violence. First presented at Algiers Point for Prospect.4 in New Orleans in 2017, the steam organ's wail conjured the ghosts of thousands of enslaved humans held as they awaited the auction block. In 2019, Walker was selected for the Hyundai Commission at the Tate Modern. She responded with the four-tiered fountain, Fons Americanus. Directly alluding to the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace, Walker's sculpture stands as a "counter-memorial," that she has described as "a gift…to the heart of an Empire that redirected the fates of the world."

Walker's work can be found in numerous museums and public collections, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt. She lives and works in New York.

Works in the Collection

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