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

@ Smithsonian American Art Museum

LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University


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
Offset Lithograph And Screenprint On Paper
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
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Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Smithsonian Institution