Walker uses the medium of cut-paper silhouette, traditionally associated with nineteenth-century portrait profiles of upper-middle-class sitters, to construct complex, provocative narratives of race and gender derived from antebellum stereotypes and prejudices. The graceful lines of her forms serve as a foil to the more disturbing nature of her subjects. While she generally works with life-size cutouts installed on the wall, she has also made a number of prints and portfolios.
This portfolio of fifteen lithographs and screenprints directly addresses Walker’s ongoing interest in Civil War representation. She enlarged pages from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, a commemorative, pro-Union history of the war published in two volumes in 1866 and 1868, and overlaid them with her own silhouetted images. Walker’s bold and often unnerving incursions make African Americans central participants in her account of the war and suggest a perspective omitted from the historical record.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Numbered, signed and dated in graphite at lower right: "4/35 KB 2005"
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Kara Walker at the Met: After the Deluge," March 21–August 6, 2006.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005-2006." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 64 (Fall 2006), p. 67, ill.