Rashid Johnson - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Monday, November 11, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rashid Johnson’s practice is one of the most incisive and intellectually stimulating to emerge in the last decade. Combining a sophisticated, almost elegant, command of materials that are anything but prosaic with erudite and amusing wittiness, Johnson has proven a versatile talent, employing a variety of media while maintaining a voice that is singularly his own.

    The present lot exemplifies Rashid Johnson’s ongoing eponymous Cosmic Slop series, presenting to the viewer a rough yet refined work, manifested in an elegant aesthetic but also in ideology, as an intricate object. Comprised of a mixture of liquid soap and black microcrystalline wax layered on board, Cosmic Slop (Phase Two), 2012, endows Johnson’s oeuvre with bombastic painterly energy. The very materiality of the work seems to arrest time with wax and soap intermingled in an endless dance of dirty and clean, soft and hard, rough and smooth. Named after an epic song by the iconic psychedelic soul band Parliament-Funkadelic, it is in this series that we can perhaps best see the artist’s energetic intellectual ambitions tempered only by a re-imagined, pared down formalism.

    Johnson is well known for using various cultural signifiers in his work, including specific motifs or materials such as shea butter, LP record covers, obsolete Citizen’s Band radios, and others to unravel complex notions of his African-American identity. Concerns such as his personal relationship with Afrocentrism, or the complicated history and ideology of the talented tenth, are intimated in the present lot more as emotion than an enunciated sentence. As in all his works, Cosmic Slop (Phase Two), 2012, problematizes the notion of a singular black identity, simultaneously referencing an art historical lineage inclusive of the monochrome paintings of Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg and Clyfford Still. Here, the history and questions, rage and absurdity always apparent in his projects are present but sublimated – and these elements refuse to be silent. In Cosmic Slop (Phase Two), Johnson instead expresses these forces in a physical, almost violent, practice that is both reverently historical, yet in and of the present.


Cosmic Slop (Phase Two)

black soap, microcrystalline wax on board
72 3/8 x 96 1/4 in. (183.8 x 244.5 cm.)
Signed "Rashid Johnson" on the reverse.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $125,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Evening Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 11 November 2013 7PM