The Keys Behind Rashid Johnson’s Market Success
Updated: Feb 19
Rashid Johnson in the studio 2020 © Rashid Johnson Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Axel Dupeux
Black American Artist
New York, NY
ArtMatch Value Score*: Strong
Rashid Johnson (b. 1977) moved to New York at age 28 with the ambition to be a successful artist. Now 46, Johnson is one of the most influential and in-demand artists of our time. In this post, we will explore the keys behind Johnson’s market success.
RECORD YEARS: 2021, 2022
Rashid Johnson is the top selling African American artist at auction still living. In 2022, over $10M worth of his paintings, sculptures and mixed media works were auctioned around the world. His market has grown significantly in the past two years with both the prices fetched by his work and the number of pieces offered at auction increasing. He achieved a new auction record in November of 2022 for his painting Surrender Painting Sunshine, which sold for $3M.
Surrender Painting "Sunshine", 2022
Oil on linen
72 x 96 in
Pricing for Johnson’s work has continued to climb over the past two years. Some of his highest selling pieces were donated works to benefit non-profit organizations (including Surrender painting “Sunshine”). But even when you exclude those works, the upward pricing trend still holds.
We will focus on three key factors that have contributed to Johnson’s market growth.
I. NEW WORK
In 2014, Johnson started working on a new series called Anxious Men. It featured wide eyed, abstract faces using quick gestural techniques, typically painted in black or red. Anxious Men stemmed from a personal battle with anxiety after Johnson stopped drinking. Johnson felt his anxiety intensify, particularly in social situations, without the “shield of alcohol”. As he continued to explore the theme, the series became more culturally relevant as societal angst increased during the rise of Trumpism in 2016.
Anxious Red Painting December 18th, 2020
Oil on linen
72 x 96 in
The Anxious Men series eventually led to the Broken Men series which began in 2018. This series depicted the Anxious Men faces but added new elements and materials, including shattered mirrors and colorful ceramic tile. These large scale works also incorporate techniques and materials found in Johnson’s earlier work, notably red oak flooring and black soap. This series coincided not only with the turbulent Trump presidency but also the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic was a time when (on mass scale) lives changed, were broken, or at bare minimum reassessed. The result in most cases was some form of rebuilding.
Standing Broken Men, 2020
Ceramic tile, mirror tile, branded red oak flooring, spray enamel, oil stick, black soap and wax
95 x 73 in