Chicago-born artist Charles White created the linoleum cut Solid as a Rock (My God Is a Rock) in 1958, shortly after moving to Los Angeles, where he became an influential teacher and mentor for an emerging generation of African American artists. The print's unusual scale and iconic depiction represent a key moment in the artist's practice—a transition between his earlier social realist work with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and his increasing focus on issues of race and the black body.
White believed that art could be a weapon to fight inequality, and he understood printmaking’s potential for spreading ideas and images widely, something he had learned at the WPA and at the revolutionary printshop Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico City in the 1940s. The lithograph on view here, made in 1970, was among the first of White's works to be collected by MoMA. It is part of his Wanted Poster Series, portraying African Americans against abstract backdrops based on pre–Civil War posters advertising slave auctions and rewards for runaways. Recently, White’s prints have become an acquisition priority, recognizing his significant engagement with the medium and the widespread impact of his work on a younger generation.
Gallery label from New to the Print Collection: Matisse to Bourgeois, June 13, 2012–January 7, 2013.