Rashid Johnson, The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood), 2008.

Lambda print, Ed. 2/5, 69 x 55 1/2 inches. Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

This photograph has the immediate quality of an icon—covered in smoke, its subject is mysterious and dignified. Johnson’s photographs depict members of the “New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club,” a fictional esteemed secret intellectual society. Posed to emulate a portrait of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Thurgood references the first African American justice of the US Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.