LESTER JOHNSON: In Memoriam

 

Johnson Polyklyton Head

19 March – April 20130

ACME Fine Art’s third solo exhibition of the work of Lester Johnson will be a memorial to the artist, who passed away late last spring. Johnson was a immensely talented artist who became a primary force in the development of the Figurative Expressionist movement in the second half of the 20th century, and in his position in the Art and Architecture Department at Yale University, he was a dedicated and thoughtful educator of the next generation of artists. LESTER JOHNSON: IN MEMORIAM will be open for viewing from Saturday, 19 March to Saturday, 30 April 2011. ACME Fine Art will host an opening reception on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 March from 2:00 to 5:00. A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue is available through the gallery.

The artwork selected for the exhibition touches on phases of Johnson’s artistic history. The exhibition will be organized as a small-scale retrospective, featuring eighteen important paintings from all phases of this prodigious artist’s more than six-decade-long career. All of the paintings, regardless of period or scale, are bold and vigorously expressive, and they demonstrate the poetic virtuosity and power that became Lester Johnson’s hallmark.

Lester Johnson was one of the relative handful of avant-garde artists who abandoned non-objective painting in the 1950s in order to harness the power of the human figure as a primary vehicle for artistic self-expression. Today Johnson is recognized as one of the most important and influential painters of his generation.

Since his first solo exhibition at New York’s Artists Gallery in 1951, Johnson’s work has been featured in more than 100 solo exhibitions, and included in important group exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to name just a few. Lester Johnson’s work is in the permanent public collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University.

Speaking about his own work Johnson once offered the following: “There is no balance in my paintings because balance seems to me to be static. Life, which I try to reflect in my paintings is dynamic…. To me my paintings are action paintings –paintings that move across the canvas, paintings that do not get stuck, but flow like time.” To which the noted critic and art historian Dore Ashton added: “And so they did.”

In his essay titled Lester Johnson: A Leading Figurative Expressionist, Charles Giuliano writes, “Lester was striving to find the essence of universal man. The details and specifics failed to engage him. The figure was a metaphor for the turmoil and conflict flowing through him. The resultant works were among the most potent conundrums of his generation.” Mr. Giuliano’s essay is published in its entirety in the exhibition catalogue, and he will be speaking about Lester Johnson in a Gallery Talk at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, 9 April 2011 at ACME Fine Art.

ACME Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116. Gallery Hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday. The entire exhibition will be viewable online after 18 March at www.acmefineart.com. Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase online or by contacting the gallery.