Tate Modern Exhibition

Hyundai Commission Kara Walker

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Acclaimed artist Kara Walker presents one of the most ambitious Hyundai Commissions to date

Fons Americanus is a 13-metre tall working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, London.

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.

This commission has been made using an environmentally-conscious production process and has been built from recyclable or reusable cork, wood and metal. The surface covering is made from a non-toxic acrylic and cement composite that can be used for sculpting or casting. It avoids the use of large quantities of non-recyclable materials and harmful substances often found in the production of exhibitions and installations.

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.

Explore our in-depth guide to watch the full film and read about the different figures that make up the fountain.

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.

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker in front of Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Ben Fisher)

Kara Walker in front of Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019 (detail). Photo: © Ben Fisher)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Kara Walker Fons Americanus Tate Modern 2019. Photo: © Tate​ (Matt Greenwood)

Tate Modern

Turbine Hall

Bankside
London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Dates

2 October 2019 – 5 April 2020

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  • Hyundai Commission: Kara Walker Catalogue

    Available for pre-order exclusively from Tate, this book reveals the full background behind the making of Kara Walker’s installation for the 2019 Hyundai Commission

    £19.99