Ahead of Her Next Museum Exhibition, Kara Walker's ‘Fons Americanus’ Archive Shown in Online Art Basel

  • June 18, 2020 13:25

  • Email
The Ship from Kara Walker's Fons Americanus, Tate Modern, 2019 (detail). Photo: © Tate (Matt Greenwood)
Shell Grotto from Kara Walker's Fons Americanus, Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

To demand exactitude in the pursuit of a historical truth is to go where no mind can venture and return whole. The load is too large to carry, the losses too many and too varied. Truth will drain from your hands like so much water. Instead, you will find yourself drawing on tales from the past – historical accounts, novels and songs that compress shared memory – to make the bitter truth at least partly digestible.  - Kara Walker, Frieze

The second edition of Art Basel's Online Viewing Rooms, with 4,000 artworks from an international lineup of 282 leading galleries, is open to the public from June 19 and running digitally through June 26, 2020, and includes many thematic presentations, from artists addressing the impacts of the pandemic, to racial equality and justice.

One highlight is Sikkema Jenkins & Co.’s presentation, showcasing works by Deana Lawson that explore representations of the body within the context of contemporary Black diasporic life, as well as a new work on paper by Kara Walker – a monumental quadriptych from her 2019 ‘Fons Americanus’ archive, addressing the power systems of white supremacy that comprised the trans-Atlantic slave trade within Europe and America.

Walker's massive sculpture Fons Americanus, a 13-metre-high fountain, debuted to wide acclaim in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in fall 2019. A riff on the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, the ambitious piece intertwined themes of "race, sexuality, and violence through the history of slavery" in an unfiltered narrative of the origins of the African diaspora and the British Empire.

The New York-based gallery also hosted a spring exhibition of works on paper by Kara Walker, featuring selections from the artist’s personal archive alongside more recent drawings. The show previewed a selection of works that will be included in Walker’s first major exhibition in Switzerland at the Kunstmuseum Basel in 2021. The museum exhibition will travel to HEART - Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Herning, Denmark and the De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in Tillburg, The Netherlands.

Kara Walker, Fons Americanus, Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Sikkema Jenkins & Co. states: "To view these works on paper is to realize the intimacy and intensity of Walker’s vision in creating her subjects, speaking back to history and thus simultaneously reforming it within the present. The figures within Walker’s drawings insist upon themselves as the protagonists of a new mythology, a narrative revealed to us through bodies and words and unspeakable acts." 

"The abundance of drawings reveals that Walker deftly avails herself of a wide range of styles: one recognizes Goya’s light-dark contrasts, James Ensor’s vibrant line, or Hogarth’s flair for cartoonish emphasis," Kunstmuseum Basel notes. "Her most recent works, by contrast, prominently feature instances of old masterly white heightening on tinted paper and even colored crayons. The echoes of historic art raise the question of Walker’s influences and how an African-American artist adds to the concepts of art history."


  • Email

More News Feed Headlines

The Fox River is in clear view from the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois.  Photo © Carol Highsmith

5 Awesome Open-Air Art Settings to Stroll Outdoors or Online This Fall

  • ArtfixDaily / September 13th, 2020

Local fall foliage viewing and art getaways in the fresh air have added attraction during the pandemic. With the ...

Read More...
Rodney McMillian, Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting), 2004–06, Acrylic on canvas, 216 x 216 inches.  Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles.  © 2020 the artist.  Photo: Gene Ogami.

'States of Mind: Art and American Democracy' to Open at The Moody in Houston

  • ArtfixDaily / September 17th, 2020

The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University in Houston will be reopening its galleries on September 19 with the ...

Read More...
Francis Bacon works at Marlborough Gallery booth, Art Basel, 2011.

Art Dealer Sues Marlborough Gallery For $10.8 Million Over Alleged 'Scheme'

  • ARTnews / September 16th, 2020

Art dealer Max Levai is seeking at least $10.8 million in damages from his former employer. Levai sued Marlborough ...

Read More...
Allan Gerson, Border Wall, No.8, March 2019.  Courtesy The Estate of Allan Gerson.

American University Museum's Online 'Contested Space' Series Explores Themes Relevant to Presidential Election of 2020

  • ArtfixDaily / September 16th, 2020

Every four years, American University Museum in Washington, DC, presents exhibitions during the run-up to ...

Read More...

ARTFIXdaily Artwire