Provincetown Art News and Information


Lester F. Johnson - 1958 Provincetown Harbor art painting on Ebay


Published: Tue May 23, 2006
By: Straight Dope in Art > Paintings
Tools: Tell-a-Friend | Email this author | This is Del.icio.us | Add to Yahoo! MyWeb

Lester Johnson art on eBay

This is an important and beautiful figurative expressionist painting by the New York and Provincetown artist Lester F. Johnson. It is a gouache/watercolor on paper, 18 ¾” x 23 1/4” (image), and 24”x30"(framed). It is signed Lester Johnson lower right and dated 8/1958. The picture is in fine condition and is archivally framed. It shows the usual and expected slight rippling of the watercolor medium, and what I think is the intentional drippings of the gouache paint in a manner similar to many of the abstract expressionists also painting in Provincetiown at that time. I am currently auctioning two other works by Lester Johnson on ebay now.

In May 2001 the Albert Merola Gallery in Provincetown published a catalogue of an exhibition of Lester Johnson’s work during the 1950’s and 60’s. This painting is obviously from that period and is similar to interior scenes facing outward toward what I am sure is Provincetown Harbor. I ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE THE AUTHENTICITY OF THIS PAINTING.

A New York artist, known as a second-generation abstract expressionist, Lester Johnson was born to a large Lutheran family in Minneapolis. He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the St. Paul Art School. There he was introduced to Hans Hofmann’s teaching approach, particularly the “push and pull” effects of form and color by St. Paul teachers Alexander Masley and Cameron Booth, both of whom had studied with Hofmann in Munich. After further study at the Chicago Art Institute, Johnson moved to New York City in 1947 and became one of the first downtown loft-dwellers. He shared a lower East Side studio with Larry Rivers and attended some of Hofmann’s New York classes. Rents were cheap but Johnson was broke much of the time as he tried to support his painting through a variety of part-time jobs, including teaching art. In 1950, he and realist figurative painter Philip Pearlstein shared a studio space. Lester’s wife, Jo, had introduced the two artists at a time when she and Pearlstein were studying art history at New York University. Johnson’s various studios, on the Bowery and elsewhere, were always one flight up with a view of Manhattan’s active street life. No wonder, for over fifty years, street scenes have been a dominant part of his art. Johnson adopted the working techniques of action painting, which meant he used a great deal of paint. A tube of oil paint might be expended in seconds as he, like Pollock, physically projected himself into the work. The images that Johnson produced were not decorative, but stubbornly confrontational: oversize, brooding, thickly encrusted, scarred surfaces that were alive with recognizable objects and figures. Even today, few realize how radical it was for Johnson to depict a recognizable subject in an adamantly pro-abstract-expressionist climate. Sculptor George Segal recalled: “The Abstract Expressionists were legislating any reference to the physical world totally out of art. This was outrageous to us”. Rebellion came naturally to Lester Johnson, and he remained tenaciously outside the mainstream. Nonetheless, he produced a body of work that influenced several generations of younger painters and confounded an art establishment in need of neat categorization. He remains one of the few painters whose work holds significance for both abstract and figurative artists. Lester Johnson’s animated men and women, with all their nervous energy, yield themselves only gradually to analysis and will no doubt be reinterpreted for many years to come. His largest achievement is perhaps the degree to which each of his works is still able to convince us that the act of painting is relevant and vital. Source: Based on information from article in “Provincetown Arts Magazine,” by Burt ChernowA New York artist, known as a second-generation abstract expressionist, Lester Johnson was born to a large Lutheran family in Minneapolis. He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the St. Paul Art School. There he was introduced to Hans Hofmann’s teaching approach, particularly the “push and pull” effects of form and color by St. Paul teachers Alexander Masley and Cameron Booth, both of whom had studied with Hofmann in Munich.

After further study at the Chicago Art Institute, Johnson moved to New York City in 1947 and became one of the first downtown loft-dwellers. He shared a lower East Side studio with Larry Rivers and attended some of Hofmann’s New York classes. Rents were cheap but Johnson was broke much of the time as he tried to support his painting through a variety of part-time jobs, including teaching art.

In 1950, he and realist figurative painter Philip Pearlstein shared a studio space. Lester’s wife, Jo, had introduced the two artists at a time when she and Pearlstein were studying art history at New York University. Johnson’s various studios, on the Bowery and elsewhere, were always one flight up with a view of Manhattan’s active street life. No wonder, for over fifty years, street scenes have been a dominant part of his art.

Johnson adopted the working techniques of action painting, which meant he used a great deal of paint. A tube of oil paint might be expended in seconds as he, like Pollock, physically projected himself into the work. The images that Johnson produced were not decorative, but stubbornly confrontational: oversize, brooding, thickly encrusted, scarred surfaces that were alive with recognizable objects and figures.

Even today, few realize how radical it was for Johnson to depict a recognizable subject in an adamantly pro-abstract-expressionist climate. Sculptor George Segal recalled: “The Abstract Expressionists were legislating any reference to the physical world totally out of art. This was outrageous to us”.

Rebellion came naturally to Lester Johnson, and he remained tenaciously outside the mainstream. Nonetheless, he produced a body of work that influenced several generations of younger painters and confounded an art establishment in need of neat categorization. He remains one of the few painters whose work holds significance for both abstract and figurative artists.

Lester Johnson’s animated men and women, with all their nervous energy, yield themselves only gradually to analysis and will no doubt be reinterpreted for many years to come. His largest achievement is perhaps the degree to which each of his works is still able to convince us that the act of painting is relevant and vital.

Source: Based on information from article in “Provincetown Arts Magazine,” by Burt Chernow

Lester Johnson art on eBay

Find Lester Johnson items on eBay

Find Lester Johnson items on Amazon

Comments

No comments have been posted yet.

Submit A Comment

Name: (real name or screen name)

Email: (for Provincetown Journal use only. Not visible to public or shared.)

URL: (for Provincetown related self-promotion or relevant links)

Notify me of follow-up comments?

View all Provincetown Journal art articles in 2006

Categories

Write Here

Articles Archive

Advertisements

Marketplace

Explore a variety of Provincetown related products in our Marketplace

  • Provincetown logo merchandise
  • Provincetown Journal merchandise
  • Cape Cod domain names
BlogWise ExpressionEngine


Also read our sister publication the Havana Journal