David Klein Gallery, 163 Townsend Street, Birmingham, Michigan is pleased to announce the opening of Lester Johnson (1919-2010): A Centennial Exhibition. David Klein Gallery has had a long relationship with Lester Johnson and it is a great honor to present this exhibition on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Jo Johnson, his wife and passionate advocate for 61 years, who passed away in December of 2018.
A Centennial Exhibition focuses on Johnson’s work from 1959 to 1973. The 1960s was a truly heroic decade for Lester’s work. Paintings like Milford Head (Blue) – 1965 and Self Portrait with Wrought Iron Fence – 1967 reflect his determination to break free from the dominant abstract expressionist style of the 1950s. Johnson’s work from this period – his fierce figurative expressionism – was unique at the time and is still influential today. By the early 1970s, Johnson had achieved his mature style – bowler hatted men and stylishly dressed women, legs and arms interlocked, moving lockstep through New York’s urban landscape – exemplified by the great Three Women II – 1973.
“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.”
Lester Johnson was an artist of international renown, whose work has been exhibited in and collected by major museums around the world (including The Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Detroit Institute of Arts, and The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.) and in over one hundred one-man shows in the United States and Europe. In 1987 he became an Associate of the National Academy of Design and in 2004 Johnson was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.