Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass

Edited by Cora Gilroy-Ware, Isaac Julien, and Vladimir Seput
Contributions by Kass Banning and Warren Crichlow, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Jonathan P. Binstock, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Paul Gilroy, Cora Gilroy-Ware, Jennifer A. González, John G. Hanhardt, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Susan Solt, Vron Ware, and Deborah Willis

Designed by Content Object, Kimberly Varella
Casebound Hardcover, 272 pages
Publishers: Isaac Julien Studio, London; Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga, NY, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-63681-039-3
Dimensions: 9.5 x 11.75 in.
Separations: Echelon Color, Santa Monica, CA
Printing: VeronaLibri, Verona, Italy


“Lessons of the Hour is a poetic meditation on the life and times of Frederick Douglass, the ten-screen film installation proposes a contemplative journey into Douglass’ zeitgeist and its relationship to contemporaneity. The film includes excerpts of Douglass’ most arresting speeches and allusions to his private and public milieus.” (Isaac Julien Studio)

This lush and ambitious 272 volume pays homage to the lessons of Frederick Douglass as interpreted by Isaac Julien. As an object, it captures the dual atmospheres of historical importance and modern context from cover to cover: tipped-in portraits of Douglass and the actor that plays him (Ray Fearon) are centered between the title, set in a classic treatment of Didot borrowed from the masthead of Douglass’ antislavery newspaper, The North Star (1847) and Martin (Vocal Type), drawn from protest signage used in the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. The book, like the artwork, weaves in and out of historical and contemporary contexts including richly illustrated essays, documentation of the installation at various venues, extended visual and textural experiences, and recurring object lessons in photography and representation.

This book is accompanied by incredible scholarship by Kass Banning and Warren Crichlow, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Jonathan P. Binstock, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Paul Gilroy, Cora Gilroy-Ware, Jennifer A. González, John G. Hanhardt, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Susan Solt, Vron Ware, and Deborah Willis. A special signed edition (100 quanity) was created with a blind deboss slipcase and inserted artist print.








Photography by Ian Byers Gamber
Text excerpted from the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College