Kara Walker, Fons Americanus


Fons Americanus is a 13-metre tall working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, London. Created by artist Kara Walker for the 2019 Hyundai Commission, it is one of the most ambitious installations in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to date. Rather than a celebration of the British Empire, Walker’s fountain explores the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe. She uses water as a key theme, referring to the transatlantic slave trade and the ambitions, fates and tragedies of people from these three continents. Fantasy, fact and fiction meet at an epic scale. Based in New York, Kara Walker is acclaimed for her candid explorations of race, sexuality and violence. She is best known for her use of black cut-paper silhouetted figures, referencing the history of slavery and the antebellum South in the US through provocative and elaborate installations. Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall has hosted some of the world’s most memorable and acclaimed large-scale works of art, enjoyed by audiences of millions each year. This is the fifth installation in the ten-year series of the Hyundai Commission following the work of Abraham Cruzvillegas in 2015, Philippe Parreno in 2016, SUPERFLEX in 2017 and Tania Bruguera in 2018.


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Cite this page as: Tate, "Kara Walker, Fons Americanus," in Smarthistory, November 7, 2022, accessed December 1, 2022, https://smarthistory.org/kara-walker-fons-americanus/.