The New York-based artist Kara Walker has been chosen to create the next annual Hyundai Commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, which will open to the public on 2 October 2019.

Walker is known for her unflinching explorations of race, and in particular the history of slavery and racism in the US and its impact on black Americans today. Her work also tackles issues around gender, sexuality and violence.

Announcing the new commission, Tate Modern director Frances Morris said that Walker “fearlessly tackles some of the most complex issues we face today”.

She added: “Her work addresses history and identity with a powerful directness, but also with great understanding, nuance and wit. Seeing her respond to the industrial scale of the Turbine Hall – and the wider context of London and British history – is a hugely exciting proposition.”

Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969 and raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13. She completed at the Atlanta College of Art, graduating in 1991, then studied an MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, which she completed in 1994.

Working in a variety of media, including drawings, prints, murals, shadow puppets and projections, Walker is best known for her black cut-paper silhouetted figures. She came to prominence in 1994 with the wall-based installation, Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart.

In 2014 Walker produced her first large-scale sculptural installation in the derelict Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn.

Commissioned by Creative Time, the work addressed the exploitative history of sugar production and included a 10 metres high and 23 metres long sphinx-like sculpture of an African-American woman covered in white sugar. The figure was surrounded by smaller figures made from toffee, brown sugar and molasses.

Tate Modern’s annual Turbine Hall commission began in 2000. The current commission is by the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera.

1. Kara Walker. Photo: Ari Marcopoulos
2. Kara Walker, A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, 2014, installation view, A project of Creative Time, Domino Sugar Refinery, Brooklyn, NY, 10 May – 6 July 2014. Photo: Jason Wyche. copyright Kara Walker
3. Kara Walker, The Katastwof Karavan, 2017. Installation view: Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp, Prospect New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, 2018. Photo: Alex Marks. Copyright Kara Walker

More on

A Q&A with… Richard Billingham, photographer and director of Ray & Liz


Venice Biennale 2019: curator Ralph Rugoff announces artists for International Exhibition

MSPs call for public inquiry into Glasgow School of Art fires