Douglas James Johnson (American/French, 1937-1998) was an American, painter, draftsman, educator and cultural diplomat. He was born in Coldwater, Michigan and died in Joucas, France. In addition to creating his own art, he worked for the Iran-America Society and subsequently the United States Information Service (aka: United States Information Agency) advancing American art and promoting international cultural exchanges. Johnson's own works were exhibited widely in Europe. His mediums included oils, collage, found objects, old photographs, pencil and mixed mediums. His subjects included portraits, figures, animals, architecture, social commentary, and allegory*. His styles included Lettrism, Pop Art, Realism and Surrealism. This particular work really appealed to me. I love the surrealism mixed with realism. Are the big cats (cheetahs, jaguars or leopards?) part of a dream from the sleeping man at the top. There is a poem halfway down on the left. There are many interesting aspects to this artwork, including Keats at the bottom right.
Title: "Ode to Mid-May"
Media: Pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper.
Size: 29 3/4 by 22 inches (75.6 x 55.9 cm) (sheet) Framed (under glass) 32 by 24 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches.
Signed in ink and dated in pencil upper left 1977
Sheet is off hinges; there appears to be light overall paper discoloration and toning along edges; a few small abrasions and a possible tiny tear at upper left corner; framed under glass. Framed Dimensions 32 X 24.5 X 1.5 Inches
About the Artist, Douglas James Johnson B.A., M.F.A. :
He was a graduate of Michigan State University, East Lansing (BA [Art] - 1959), where he studied under Abraham Rattner. Johnson also attended Cooper Union Art School, New York and earned a graduate degree at Columbia University, New York (MFA - 1962), where he studied under Nicolas Carone, Stephen Greene and John Heliker. After the mid 1960s, Johnson lived principally outside of the U.S.A.; primarily in Europe, and mostly in France. He also visited and worked in the Caribbean (c.1963) and in Iran (c.1969 - 1971). In 1969, he was recruited as Visual Director by the Iran-America Society where he worked for three years organizing exhibitions of American and Persian modern and traditional art. In the 1970s he was recruited by the United States Information Service for whom he promoted American art and international cultural exchanges by organizing art exhibitions. A good example is "23 American Artists" a show which Johnson organized to tour Italy in the 1970s and which ran for several years. Johnson's own works were featured in some important exhibitions, such as, "Paintings by Young Americans" at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York in 1962; "Documenta* 6" at Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany in 1977; and in "Der Rhein/Le Rhin/De Waal" at the Rhineland Museum, Bonn, Germany and touring in 1995. His works were also shown at prominent commercial galleries such as Galerie Karl Fliker, Paris (1975); Galerie Jasa, Munich (1976); Galerie Jurka, Amsterdam (1977); Carlton Gallery, New York (1977); and Galerie Denise Rene & Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf (1981). Johnson's awards included a fellowship at Columbia University (c.1960) and a Tiffany Foundation Grant* (1962). Footnotes: (1) Please note: Most sources say Johnson was born in 1940, however, a 1963 article on the front page of the Palm Beach Daily News about a solo exhibition of his work details his career to date and it states he was born in 1937. Since at that point (1963) he had already studied at three universities, earning bachelor's and master's degrees, a birth date of 1937 would have made him, as stated in the article, 25 years old which is a little more believable than the 22 he would be if he were born in 1940. So we called Michigan State University. They said that their records show that 'Douglas J. Johnson was born in 1937 and graduated in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art.' Source: Office of the Registrar, Michigan State University (phone call by MDS, March 18, 2015). - M.D. Silverbrooke.
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