KW VirginiaLynchMob-isolated

AT THE START OF HER CAREER, Kara Walker was first recognized for her mural-sized narrative silhouettes—cut paper depictions of the imagined indignities and violence experienced by blacks in the antebellum South. The Montclair Art Museum announced it has acquired one of these early works.

The delicate precision of “Virginia’s Lynch Mob” belies its challenging subject matter. Walker created about a dozen characters including a man brandishing noose, a little girl carrying a KKK hood, and an eagle clinching its prey. The rag tag group has formed a lynch mob procession pursuing Virginia who appears to escape their wrath by ascending to the heavens. The wall installation spans about 12 feet.

“Virginia’s Lynch Mob” was purchased from Sikkema Jenksins & Co., Walker’s longtime New York gallery, with funds from the Montclair Art Museum’s 2014 Centennial Acquisition Fund. The museum, which already owns several prints by Walker, plans to present an exhibition focused around the new silhouette installation in 2018.

Alexandra Schwartz, the museum’s curator of contemporary art said in a statement, “’Virginia’s Lynch Mob’ would be a landmark acquisition for any museum, but is especially so for MAM. Our contemporary art program was founded only five years ago, but we have been steadily acquiring major works by leading contemporary artists, including Nick Cave, Mark Dion, Spencer Finch, Natalie Frank, Vik Muniz, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, and Saya Woolfalk.”

“‘Virginia’s Lynch Mob’ would be a landmark acquisition for any museum, but is especially so for [the Montclair Art Museum].”
— Alexandra Schwartz, MAM Curator of Contemporary Art

In addition to the Walker acquisition, the museum purchased works by African American artists Cave and Thomas through the Centennial fund. CT


TOP IMAGE: “Virginia’s Lynch Mob,” 1998 (cut paper on wall, installation dimensions variable, approximately 120 x 144 inches). | Montclair Art Museum © Kara Walker


Over the course of Kara Walker‘s two-decade career, several volumes have been published on the occasion of her exhibitions. Most recently, “Kara Walker: Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First” was published to coincide with her fall 2015 show at Victoria Miro Gallery in London. “Kara Walker: Norma” documents a unique project Walker undertook during the 2015 Venice Biennale, the direction and art direction of Vincenzo Bellini’s two-act opera.


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