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Kara Walker, American, b. 1969
Freedom, A fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Wit of a Negress in Troubled Times, 1997
Ink on paper
9 1/2 x 8 x 3/4 in. (24.13 x 20.32 x 1.91 cm)

Object Type: Book
Technique: offset lithographs and laser-cut
Credit Line: Gift of Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin in memory of Marjorie and Leonard Vernon
Accession Number: 2013.23.10

Each year since 1988, art collector, software entrepreneur, and MoMA trustee Peter Norton has commissioned an art edition ot celebrate the holidays. Created by artists represented in the Nortons' own collection, and sent as gifts to personal friends and members of the art community, these art objects are designed to be interactive and playful, and to foster engagement with the world of contemporary art.

MoMA website

Marjorie and Leonard Vernon, who were immensely important collectors of photography in Los Angeles in the second half of the 20th century, were recipients of these gifts.

Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin generously donated these objects to the Scripps College collection.

This piece is one of 4,000 in the edition sponsored by the Peter Norton Family Christmas Art Project.

One copy of this book is in the collection of National Gallery Art, Washington, DC

"Freedom, a Fable is an illustrated artist's book with text and pop-up silhouettes. At first glance it appears to be a nineteenth-century children's book, but it is decidedly not. It tells the story of a female slave whose life after emancipation veers far from her dreams of meritocracy, revealing that Freedom, a Fable is not just the title of the work but is also the lesson to be learned.

"Much of Kara Walker's work engages the historical art form of the black paper silhouette to re-present African-American history. Her beautiful, laser-cut figures initially attract. But quickly one notices their demeaning postures and exaggerated features, which recall negative stereotypes of African-Americans portrayed in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century minstrel shows, novels, and art. Walker's figures depict a physically and sexually violent antebellum South, often the source of these virulent typologies. Walker's inversion of the portrait silhouette—a supposedly representative art form—reveals the corrosive power of stereotypes and prejudice. To heighten the irony and poignancy of her message, her cutouts are normally wall-size installations. In contrast, the miniaturized images in Freedom address the viewer on an intimate, personal scale."

From the National Gallery of Art's website:


Object Description
Leather bound pop-up book, 27 pages and contains Norton Family Christmas card

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