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Rashid Johnson

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Thurgood in the Hour of Chaos [from the Exit Art Print Portfolio, America, America]

2009
21st Century
22 in. x 30 in. (55.88 cm x 76.2 cm)

Rashid Johnson, American, b. 1977

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: North America, United States, New York
Medium and Support: Photo lithograph
Credit Line: Gift of Exit Art c/o John Koegel, The Koegel Group LLP
Accession Number: 2012.13.4.e
Brooklyn-based artist Rashid Johnson presents a photo lithograph of a polished intellectual. The portrait is of a man in the role of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black United States Supreme Court Justice. “The Hour of Chaos” is a nod to Public Enemy’s 1989 hip-hop album of the same title, as are the milky crosshairs that reference the album’s cover design. Painted over the image, the crosshairs are sharp against the lithograph’s soft focus and marbled background.

This portrait appeared in an earlier series by Johnson called the New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club. Influenced by Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee, Johnson wanted to depict Blackness without any evidence of a “problem,” something he recognized in works from past Black artists. He imagined meetings and gatherings of his fictionalized characters— artists and activists. Johnson was also responding to the escapism present in works by artists such as Marcus Garvey, Sun Ra, and Paul Beatty.

In the Exit Art iteration of the work, Johnson’s portrait remains astute with the addition of the dripping target that resembles graffiti. Within the portrait of an abstract string of references, the crosshairs remain a vital continuation of thought, and a strong call for the future.

--Elis Martin, December 2016

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Dimensions
  • Sheet Dimensions: 22 x 30 in. (55.88 x 76.2 cm)

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:
  • Stephanie Hanor, ed. Moments of Impact. Moments of Impact Mills College Art Museum. Oakland, CA, 2017


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