1888, Boston, Massachusetts
1967, San Francisco, Bay Area
Although sometimes considered a Harlem Renaissance artist, Sargent Johnson spent his career in the Bay Area; he was the first African American artist on the West Coast to achieve a national reputation.
Johnson moved to San Francisco in 1915 to study painting, drawing, and his primary medium, sculpture. He was committed from early on to using modern aesthetics to create positive representations of African Americans. Like many of his contemporaries, he studied African carvings. For Johnson, however, the purpose of these formal borrowings was to suggest racial continuity and dignity. In the 1930s, while working on public art projects for the New Deal, he began to expand his range of subjects, taking on aspects of abstraction as well as Mexican muralism.
Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm it will be on view.
Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at email@example.com to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.