The Hammer Museum presents “The Battle of Atlanta: Being the Narrative of a Negress in the Flames of Desire – A Reconstruction (1995)“, a moving work that invites visitors to take a leap back in time by evoking this historical episode marked by civil wars. Created by contemporary artist Kara Walker, this work evokes a painful past and will be exhibited as part of the Hammer Contemporary collection until September 3, 2023.
Kara Walker is a visual artist born in 1969 in Stockton, California, who uses a variety of techniques and forms to express her art. Her strikingly realistic artistic silhouettes, giant sculptures, animated threads and other mediums used to express her contemporary art address notions of racism, slavery, sexism and other themes linked to the history of black American society, with a subtle touch of humor.
In the conception of her work “The Battle of Atlanta: Being the Narrative of a Negress in the Flames of Desire – A Reconstruction (1995)“, the Afro-American artist draws on the testimonies of former slaves, minstrel shows, representations of the pre-war South and historical novels to make this work a poignant narrative that addresses the very essence of the human experience. This investigation has enabled Kara Walker to craft a powerful collection of stories that analyze notions of racial supremacy and historical accuracy by combining fiction and reality, to illuminate the roots of gender and racial prejudice in a clear and concise manner.
“The Battle of Atlanta: Being the Narrative of a Negress in the Flames of Desire – A Reconstruction (1995)” is a 12-foot round canvas already in the Hammer Museum collection since 2008. It is a painting through which Kara Walker interprets a reconstruction of the famous battle of 1864. Inspired by the popular 19th-century cyclorama, the artist uses seventeen paper cut-outs to create a complex figurative display. Through silhouettes, the contemporary artist casts shadows on traditional representations of race, tackling subjects such as discrimination, love, sexual desire and exclusion.
The exhibition is organized by curator Erin Christovale and associate curator Vanessa Arizmendi. It’s an opportunity for contemporary art lovers to discover Kara Walker‘s unique artistic practice, and to reconnect with this tragic period of war that is nonetheless an integral part of our heritage in contemporary American society.