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A rich reappraisal of a key Black American modernist through a lens of cross-cultural engagement.

Sargent Claude Johnson (1888–1967) was the first Black modernist on the West Coast to gain national acclaim. His artistic practice, forged in California, drew from a range of international influences, including traditional and contemporary arts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, particularly Mexican modernism and Indigenous pottery techniques. Spanning the Black Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Johnson’s career was devoted to sensitive, ennobling portrayals of people of color. Though best known as a sculptor, he worked expertly in a broad range of media—from painting and printmaking to enamelwork and ceramics—each illuminating his multifaceted identity as an artist.

In this catalogue, leading scholars examine Johnson’s artistic evolution and offer fresh perspectives on his work. From sculptures of underrepresented subjects to majestic architectural commissions—including a celebrated mural reproduced in lavish gatefold format—the book positions Johnson’s oeuvre within an expansive framework of global modernism.

Dennis Carr is the Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Jacqueline Francis is professor of the history of art and visual culture at California College of the Arts. John P. Bowles is associate professor of African American art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor in the history of art at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • 132 pages with 71 color illustrations and 24 black-and-white illustrations
  • Dimensions: 9 1/2" x 11”
  • Hardcover