Film at Lincoln Center announces Kara Walker as the artist behind the design for the official poster of the 59th New York Film Festival (September 24 – October 10). She joins a lineup of renowned artists who have contributed their work to the festival, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, John Waters, and Laurie Simmons. A yearly artistic signature for NYFFF, these posters have taken on an overarching cultural significance through the years, reflecting the themes explored in each edition’s film selections. Known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and history, Walker’s distinctive silhouettes have been exhibited around the world.

Walker says of her design: “I photographed the two cut paper figures silhouetted against the white backdrop of a shadow puppet screen in a number of cryptic scenarios. The initial result had the tonal quality of a grainy black-and-white film clip, but I was annoyed that there was no actual story. In post production—meaning, while fiddling with Photoshop—I cropped another of the characters from the shoot: the figure of a raging, menacing jackbooted man with a little red tissue paper around him. As I moved that crop around, it fit neatly into an outstretched hand like the cellphone that was missing all along. Suddenly, it is two women watching a man behave in some kind of way, as if fictional character Topsy foiled evil plantation master Simon Legree by filming him and then sharing it. The many events we are witness to, both absurd and horrifying, grand and quotidian, that are shared on small screens, resonated as a counterpoint to the legacy of cinema and the history of the New York Film Festival. What to make of the amateur filmmakers equipped with just cell phones and a critical eye?”

The limited edition poster will be available for purchase during the New York Film Festival (September 24 – October 10) via Posteritati. Additionally, a limited number of posters will be available for purchase at Film at Lincoln Center’s merchandise store located in the Alice Tully Theater. Posters are $150; Film at Lincoln Center members will receive a special discount for purchase.

Born in Stockton, California in 1969, Kara Walker was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists, Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. Walker is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (elected 2012), the American Philosophical Society (elected 2018), and was named an Honorary Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2019. She lives and works in New York.

Walker’s work has been acquired by prominent museums and public collections throughout the United States and Europe, including the Kunstmuseum Basel’s Kupferstichkabinett (Department of Prints and Drawings); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the National Museum of 21st-Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome; and the Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt.

Walker was selected by the Tate Modern for the 2019 Hyundai Commission. She responded with a large-scale public sculpture in the form of a four-tiered fountain entitled “Fons Americanus,” a subversive “counter-memorial” to the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace. A solo exhibition of her works on paper, entitled “Kara Walker: A Black Hole is Everything a Star Longs to Be,” is currently on view at Kunstmuseum Basel through September 26, 2021; it will travel to Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany, and the De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in Tilburg, the Netherlands. 

In spring 2014, Walker’s first large-scale public project, a monumental installation entitled “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant,” was on view at the abandoned Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Commissioned and presented by Creative Time, the project—a massive sugar-covered sphinxlike sculpture—responded to and reflected on the troubled history of sugar. 

The complete list of NYFF poster artists:

Larry Rivers, 1963
Saul Bass, 1964
Bruce Conner, 1965
Roy Lichtenstein, 1966
Andy Warhol, 1967
Henry Pearson, 1968
Marisol (Escobar), 1969
James Rosenquist, 1970
Frank Stella, 1971
Josef Albers, 1972
Niki de Saint Phalle, 1973
Jean Tinguely, 1974
Carol Summers, 1975
Allan D’Arcangelo, 1976
Jim Dine, 1977
Richard Avedon, 1978
Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1979
Les Levine, 1980
David Hockney, 1981
Robert Rauchenberg, 1982
Jack Youngerman, 1983
Robert Breer, 1984
Tom Wesselmann, 1985
Elinor Bunin, 1986
Sol Lewitt, 1987
Milton Glaser, 1988
Jennifer Bartlett, 1989
Eric Fischl, 1990
Philip Pearlstein, 1991
William Wegman, 1992
Sheila Metzner, 1993
William Copley, 1994
Diane Arbus, 1995
Juan Gatti, 1996
Larry Rivers, 1997
Martin Scorsese, 1998
Ivan Chermayeff, 1999
Tamar Hirschl, 2000
Manny Farber, 2001
Julian Schnabel, 2002
Junichi Taki, 2003
Jeff Bridges, 2004
Maurice Pialat, 2005
Mary Ellen Mark, 2006
agnès b., 2007
Robert Cottingham, 2008
Gregory Crewdson, 2009
John Baldessari, 2010
Lorna Simpson, 2011
Cindy Sherman, 2012
Tacita Dean, 2013
Laurie Simmons, 2014
Laurie Anderson, 2015
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2016
Richard Serra, 2017
Ed Lachman and JR, 2018
Pedro Almodóvar, 2019
John Waters, 2020

NYFF59 will feature in-person screenings, as well as select outdoor and virtual events. In response to distributor and filmmaker partners and in light of festivals returning and theaters reopening across the country, NYFF will not offer virtual screenings for this year’s edition. 

Proof of vaccination will be required for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers at NYFF59 venues. FLC requires all guests to maintain face coverings consistent with the current CDC guidelines inside their spaces regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, NYFF59 will adhere to a comprehensive series of health and safety policies in coordination with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and state and city medical experts, while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. Visit for more information. 

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema and takes place September 24 – October 10, 2021. An annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture since 1963, the festival continues an enduring tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. NYFF59 tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, September 7 at noon ET, with early-access opportunities for FLC members and pass holders prior to this date. Learn more here. Support of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its nonprofit mission to promote the art and craft of cinema.