© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2008.5
People
Kara Walker, American (Stockton, California born 1969)
Published by LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University
Title
Confederate Prisoners being Conducted from Jonesborough to Atlanta
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)
Classification
Prints
Work Type
print
Date
2005
Culture
American
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Offset lithograph and screen print
Dimensions
image: 61 x 88.9 cm (24 x 35 in.)
sheet: 99.1 x 134.6 cm (39 x 53 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Signed and dated lower right in graphite pencil
Provenance
[Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts], sold; to Harvard Art Museum, January 2008.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Edition
30/35
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Margaret Fisher Fund
Copyright
© Kara Walker, Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Accession Year
2008
Object Number
2008.5
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Commentary
This print is from Kara Walker's provocative 2005 series, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). The fifteen prints in this series combine enlarged lithographic reproductions from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, 1866 and 1868, with Walker’s characteristically haunting silhouettes screen printed over them. Walker’s work deals with related issues, and although her use of images from Harper’s Civil War publications is new to this series, the imagery from it and other like pamphlets and periodicals has always informed her work. As Walker has said, “These prints [from Harper’s] are the landscapes that I imagine exist in the back of my somewhat more austere wall pieces.” For years, she has been exploiting the form of eighteenth-century silhouettes, creating black paper cutouts, paintings, and projections for walls, as well as linocuts and other prints that mimic the appearance of Victorian paper silhouettes. In this print series, by eclipsing the Harper’s images with enigmatic black figures engaged in often inscrutable acts, Walker obscures, disrupts, and/or augments the illustrative function of these seemingly objective historical documents. In doing so, she suggests that the underpinnings of racism in America were solidified during the Civil War period rather than eradicated with the abolition of slavery. The effect is a compelling visual exploration of race, slavery, gender, and politics against the backdrop of the War Between the States, and a fitting tribute to Harvard’s new president.

To commemorate Drew Gilpin Faust’s inauguration as president of Harvard University, in 2007 the Art Museums exhibited this series. The installation of Walker’s prints was especially apposite to honor President Faust’s appointment. Faust is a leading scholar of the Civil War and the American South, and has written extensively on its history. Her work includes explorations of the ways in which the war transformed traditional gender roles, the ideology of slavery, and the impact of the war’s enormous death toll, among other subjects.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu