Kara Elizabeth Walker

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Kara Elizabeth Walker
Ecstatic Group
Watercolor, gouache, and sumi ink on paper.
30 x 22 1/2 inches (76.2 x 57.1 cm)
Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors Committee and Lawrence R. Ricciardi.

Walker achieved fame in the mid-1990s for her vast narrative panoramas dealing with the history of slavery, executed in the technique of cut-out silhouettes. Because she associates painting on canvas with a patriarchal and white tradition, Walker has embraced paper as her favorite material. In addition to the cut-outs, her drawings range from monumental depictions of history subjects to small sketches. During the Coronavirus pandemic she produced series of drawings she calls Book of Hours, referring to the medieval prayer book -- suggesting that drawing is for her a form of daily devotion. Ecstatic Group belongs to this series. Its subject is not explicit but a figure holding Uncle Sam's hat and another one being crushed on the ground carry connotations of violence in relation to the history of the United States, in keeping with Walker's typical iconography. The dynamism of the line and swift brushwork recall Delacroix's drawings, while the violence and excess evoke Goya's prints.

The artist (Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York).