Rashid Johnson Is Second Artist Ever Named to Guggenheim Foundation’s Board

Will he shake things up?

Rashid Johnson. Photo: courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum.

Artist Rashid Johnson is the second artist to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. (Founding director, curator, and baroness Hilla von Rebay, an abstract artist who died in 1967, was the first.)

The appointment was announced by the Guggenheim Foundation’s Chairman William L. Mack, and President Jennifer Blei Stockman, on Friday.

“Widely celebrated for his compelling contributions to contemporary art, Rashid is a dynamic and accomplished practitioner whose work is represented in the Guggenheim collection,” Mack and Stockman said in a joint statement. “He is an expansive and independent thinker and we look forward to engaging with Rashid in this new leadership role.”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Photo: Jean-Christophe Benoist via Wikimedia Commons

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Courtesy of Jean-Christophe Benoist via Wikimedia Commons.

After nearly five decades without an artist, Johnson’s invitation to join the board signals the foundation’s willingness to broaden the debate and dialogue surrounding the role of the museum in society, as the institution attempts to portray itself as artistically and culturally relevant.

The multidisciplinary African American artist’s work includes painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance. He was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s 2015 exhibition “Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim,” which featured The Ritual (2015), an installation of books, a vinyl LP, a sculpture by the artist’s wife, and lumps of shea butter, Cosmic Slop (2015), a wall piece made of wax and West African soap inscribed with markings, and his short film The New Black Yoga (2011).

This fall, the 39-year-old artist will show new paintings at Hauser & Wirth in New York in an exhibition titled, “I’ll Fly Away,” which presents “themes of history, escape, yearning, and redemption.”

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