Feb. 29 at The Currier: Kara Walker exhibition reframes Civil War depictions through modern lens

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KW AlabamaLoyalists scaled
Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats, From Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), 2005, offset lithography and silkscreen on Somerset Textured paper, 39 x 53 in., © Kara Walker, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and Sprüth Magers.

MANCHESTER, NH – A unique exhibition at The Currier Museum of Art revisits the history of the antebellum South and the ensuing Civil War through the modern lenses of race, slavery, gender, and politics.   

Contemporary artist Kara Walker’s Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) will open to the public on February 29, 2024.

The series of 15 works on paper by Walker will be presented alongside a selection of prints by Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910) that inspired them. The direct comparison between the original images by Homer and Walker’s reinterpretation of the same material was first undertaken by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2017. Since then, the same exhibition format has traveled to several museums across the country to great critical acclaim.

As a young artist, Homer served as a war correspondent for Harper’s Magazine. His compelling drawings of soldiers on the front lines of battle and civilians caught up in the war’s horrors became a visual history of the Civil War and were published after the war in the magazine’s 1866 two-volume anthology. 

These historic prints represent a starting point for Walker, who revisits them utilizing her signature silhouettes to introduce new elements that complicate their initial, seemingly objective narrative. She surfaces race and gender-based biases, highlights profound sociopolitical inequalities, and brings to the fore a silenced history of violence. Walker’s overlaying of images invites viewers to confront a traumatic past, as well as a contested national history that reverberates more strongly than ever today. 

Throughout the exhibition’s run, museum curators and educators will lead a variety of conversations inspired by questions raised by Walker’s provocative work. The details of the public and educational program will be shared via the Currier’s website and social media platforms. 

This exhibition is generously supported by Emily Leff in memory of James L. Davis, III. Additional support by Benjamin and Karina Kelley. 

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Kara Walker (American, b. 1969) is one of the most prominent American artists working today, emerging in the mid-1990s with provocative works that critically revisited a history that until then had mostly been told from male and white points of view. She is best known for her black cut-paper silhouettes, which depict historical narratives of the antebellum South marked by subjugation, sexuality, and violence. In addition to the Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) series, the Currier Museum of Art is also showing two recent artworks by Walker in its Contemporary Gallery: A Burial at the Artist’s Country Estate (2022), a monumental ink work templated on Gustave Courbet’s seminal 1894–95 painting, A Burial at Ornans; and Goliath vs. David (2022), a large work on paper addressing power relations and violence between races and sexes. Visit karawalkerstudio.com to learn more. 

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910) was an American landscape painter and illustrator best known for his coastal scenes. Largely self-taught, Homer began his career as an illustrator for magazines such as Ballou’s Pictorial and Harper’s Weekly, mainly contributing scenes of life in Boston as well as in rural New England. He spent

the middle part of his career working out of a studio base in New York, during which time he moved beyond illustration into painting. Homer spent his later years in Maine, and today he is mainly recognized for the maritime paintings and watercolors he created there, capturing man’s relationship with nature and wildlife. He is considered one of the foremost American artists of the 19th century. 

About the Currier Museum of Art 

The Currier Museum, 150 Ash St., Manchester, NH,  is an internationally renowned art museum featuring paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photographs, including works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth. It presents exhibitions, tours, art classes, and special programs year-round. The museum also owns two houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Click here for hours and admission prices. Second Saturdays are Free for NH Residents  


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