Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, Chicago) is recognized as one of the major voices of his generation, an artist who composes searing meditations on race and class while establishing an organic formal vocabulary that fuses a variety of sculptural and painterly traditions. Though he employs materials drawn from specific autobiographical contexts—including those related to African American intellectual and imaginative life—and though his practice had its beginnings in photography and conceptual art, Johnson is equally interested in testing the ability of abstract visual languages to communicate across cultural boundaries. The visceral experience of art, on formal terms, is therefore considered inseparable from the social matrix that gives rise to it. Johnson’s work is predicated upon moving freely between these two modes. The breadth and generosity of his vision has resulted in a wide range of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects, installations, videos, and performances.
Rashid Johnson was one of six artists commissioned in 2022 by the Queens Museum, New York, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to create a site-specific, permanent installation for Delta Airlines’ new terminal at the La Guardia Airport in Queens, New York. In 2021, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, commissioned Johnson to create large-scale artworks for its opera house, and a major outdoor sculpture by Johnson was installed at Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York. Johnson has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2019); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2019); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri (2017), which traveled to the Milwaukee Art Museum (2017); Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); and Drawing Center, New York (2015). Notable group exhibitions include Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, New Museum, New York (2021); The Stomach and the Port, Liverpool Biennial, England (2021); Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); and ILLUMInations, International Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011). His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. His first feature-length film, an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on HBO in 2019. Johnson lives and works in New York.
Hilarie M. Sheets
Mandalit Del Barco