Images of Protest

The gathering of masses to protest issues that affected their generation was pertinent to the lifestyle and work Rhino Horn Group artists. Many of the artists in the group opposed the war and were Civil Rights advocates. They related their activism in their paintings. Decades later these issues still haven’t been solved and we’re still living in a time of social injustice, corruption, economic inequality, and war.

Sunday, October 21st, 2014 was the People’s Climate March. With over 300,000 attendees, it was the largest community gathering and protest around climate change in history. The next day (Monday, September 22nd, 2014) roughly 3,000 people assembled together to march on Wall Street (aptly named, Flood Wall Street) addressing a myriad of issues plaguing the national and international community that are still unsolved. The imagery and documentation from these marches (and the previous images of Occupy Wall Street) are enhanced by powerful posters, signs, costumes, and installations created by artist/activists.

The sentiment today echoes the sentiment felt by the members in the Rhino Horn Group. Below are several selections of protest imagery from work by artists in the Rhino Horn Group. Many of these paintings are from the late 1960s and early 70s at the height of the Vietnam War, however they’re just as relevant today as they were then.

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Peter Passuntino’s “Christ Entering New York” is a burlesque scene typical of the large political protests that have recently transpired. Passuntino often used strong satire to show the absurdity of oppression and corruption. The use of parody and absurdity has been a longstanding protest technique.

Jay Milder, The Demise of Cain on the IND, 1970, Oil on canvas, 84" x 96"

Jay Milder’s “The Demise of Cain on the IND,” shows symbols of corruption on both a political and moral level.

Peter Dean's "Street Circus" is a raucous parade scene. Notice the Fuck War painted on the walls. Signs of the times.

Peter Dean’s “Street Circus” is a raucous parade scene. Notice the “Fuck War” painted on the walls. Signs of the times. During this period, Dean made a series of powerful expressionistic  images protesting war.

Benny Andrews, Protest, John Lewis Series, 2006. Oil and collage on paper. Art © Estate of Benny Andrews/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Benny Andrews was a great advocate for education and equal opportunities for all Americans. His long career has reflected This image is a little more recent (created long after Rhino Horn disbanded), and is a poignant  image reminding us of the power of protest.

Benny Andrews, Protest, John Lewis Series, 2006. Oil and collage on paper. Art © Estate of Benny Andrews/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Benny Andrews was a great advocate for social justice, education, and equal opportunities for all Americans. His oeuvre of paintings and collage reflect the struggle for civil rights and unity. This image (created long after Rhino Horn disbanded), is a poignant image reminding us of the power of protest. In the recent wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, we are reminded that our country is still far away from creating a just and unified society on the basis of “Equal Justice for All.”

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