William H. Johnson: American Modern

William H. Johnson: American Modern

William Henry Johnson (1901-1970) is a pivotal figure in modern American art. A virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, he produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents, and genres. Now, on view in its entirety for the first time, a seminal collection covering key stages in Johnson’s career will be presented in William H. Johnson: An American Modern. Developed by Baltimore’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University, this SITES exhibition represents a unique opportunity to share the artist’s oeuvre with a broader audience.

Born and raised in Florence, SC, Johnson studied art at the National Academy of Design in New York. During the 1920s and ‘30s, he made several moves between America and Europe, before settling in New York in 1938. Like Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, Johnson began probing the black experience, drawing imagery from his southern childhood and Harlem’s upbeat urban ambience. Despite the tragic circumstances of his later years—he spent his last 23 years in a state hospital—Johnson created a body of work that celebrates the dignity and vitality of individuals and the beauty of the land.

This exhibition of 20 expressionist and vernacular landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits explores the intricate layers of Johnson’s diverse cultural perspective as an artist and self-described “primitive and cultured painter.” A planned exhibition catalogue, funded in part by the Henry Luce Foundation, will feature essays by noted scholars, such as David C. Driskell, on such topics as primitivism, modernism, and African American art; African American artists and the art historical canon; identity and aesthetics in art; and art and art scholarship at historically black colleges and universities.

Contents 15 framed paintings, 5 framed works on paper, text and object labels
Supplemental Planned exhibition catalogue, educational and promotional resources, speakers list, exhibition website

Participation Fee $20,000 per 12-week booking period, plus prorated shipping

Square Feet 300-325 running feet
Crates 6-7, 2100 pounds
Category Art
Security High
Shipping Prorated
SITES Contacts Minnie Russell, 202.633.3160 (Scheduling)
Marquette Folley, 202.633.3111 (Content)

Tour Begins September 2011

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William H. Johnson: American Modern

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