Claudette Johnson: Presence

29 September 23 – 14 January 2024

The Courtauld Gallery

London, England

Artist Profile
Claudette Johnson

Press Release

A founding member of the Black British Arts Movement, Claudette Johnson is considered one of the most significant figurative artists of her generation. For over 30 years she has created large-scale drawings of Black women and men that are at once intimate and powerful.

Presenting a carefully selected group of major works from across her career, from key early drawings such as the arresting I Came to Dance, 1982, and And I Have My Own Business in This Skin, 1982, alongside recent and new works, this exhibition offers a compelling overview of Johnson’s pioneering career and artistic development.

It will consider how Johnson has directed her approach to representing her subjects over three decades, and how her practice is rooted in the art of the past with The Courtauld’s collection providing a rich context in which to see her work.

Working in a variety of media, ranging from monochrome works in dark pastel to vast sheets brightly coloured in vibrant gouache and watercolour, combined with dramatic use of pose, gaze, and scale, Johnson’s distinctive drawings of friends, relatives, and often herself seek, as the artist puts it, “to tell a different story about our presence in this country”.

This exhibition is the first monographic show of Claudette Johnson’s work at a major public gallery in London and is rooted in the ongoing research, teaching and activities in the field of Black and Diasporic British Art by Dorothy Price, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Critical Race Art History at The Courtauld.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new catalogue based on original research and conversations with the artist.