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Daniel LaRue Johnson

(1938 - 2017)
Born in Los Angeles in 1938, African American painter, sculptor, printmaker Daniel LaRue Johnson studied at Chouinard and in Paris with Giacometti. He was closely associated with Los Angeles’s African American artist movement of the mid-20th century, which developed as a response to the country’s social, political, and economic changes. His varied body of work includes politically charged collages as well as meticulously rendered color abstractions.

In a review of the historic 2011 show "Now Dig This!", in which Johnson was prominently featured, the critic Christopher Knight noted “Daniel LaRue Johnson merged painting with assemblage, affixing fragments of a broken doll, a hacksaw, a mousetrap and rubber hose onto a large, black field of viscous, tar-like pitch. Made in the aftermath of Bull Connor's notorious Birmingham assault on peaceful civil rights marchers, Johnson injected a jolt of black social consciousness into the exalted status abstract artists then afforded to all-black paintings.”

Daniel LaRue Johnson initially exhibited in community venues, and later in academic settings or a few established Los Angeles galleries. In the fall of 1966 UCLA’s Dickson Art Center inaugurated its new building with the national exhibition "The Negro in American Art;" Daniel LaRue Johnson was a participant. Johnson’s artwork has enjoyed a rich exhibition history.

Johnson exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, where his work is in the permanent collection.