KARA WALKER: Narratives of a Negress

Ian Berry, Editor, Darby English, Editor, Vivian Patterson, Editor . MIT $45 (208p) ISBN 978-0-262-02540-9

When Walker's explosive black paper silhouettes began appearing in galleries in the early '90s, forcing stereotypical slavery-era iconography to represent graphically sexualized plantation violence and relentlessly destroyed innocence, it was clear that a new artistic vocabulary had been discovered and delivered full force. This collection of Walker's astonishing tableaux dramatizes black-white interactions via horrifically accurate imaginings of one-on-one encounters—encounters that, in their microcosms of exploitation and mutual dependency, seem to speak directly to current forms of black-white relations. The first three editors are at the college museums at Skidmore, Clark Art Institute and Williams respectively, and Reinhardt is a political scientist at Williams; they offer 122 illustrations (94 in color), a selection of Walker's texts (grave, faux naïve, sarcastic) and four essays, including one from Michele Wallace (Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman). The result is a terrific introduction to an extraordinary and still uncoiling large-scale project. (May)

FYI:Two recent releases available from D.A.P.— Kara Walker: Deutsche Bank Collection ($39.95 88p ISBN 3-935-29329-1) and Kara Walker: Pictures of Another Time (Univ. of Michigan Museum of Art [D.A.P., dist.], $29.95 104p ISBN 1-891024-50-7)—give further evidence of Walker's achievement.

Reviewed on: 05/12/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-8478-3019-0
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