William H. Johnson’s World on Paper
William H. Johnson was born in Florence, South Carolina, and educated at art schools in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts. He spent the early years of his career in Europe, where he was attracted to the expressive manifestations of European modernism.

Johnson’s bold, rough woodcuts from the 1930s, inspired by German expressionist woodcutting techniques, distinguish his prints from the work of most other American artists, who used more traditional methods of printmaking. The materials he used for making relief prints were readily available: scrap lumber or a piece of linoleum. After he returned to the United States in 1939, Johnson continued to produce relief prints. He also began to experiment with serigraphy. While many American artists of his generation created multiple impressions of a single image, Johnson often varied the image from one impression to the next. His prints, like his paintings, reveal the development of a distinctive artistic language to express powerful narrative, emotional, and symbolic content.

This set of prints by William H. Johnson represents all the prints by this artist in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. If your institution has other prints by William H. Johnson not represented in this collection, please contribute them to the William H. Johnson group.

For more information about William H. Johnson please visit the artist’s page on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website and the American Art Museum’s William H. Johnson Flickr group. More works by William H. Johnson can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

To view more collections from the Smithsonian, visit the Collection Search Center.
67 photos · 20,337 views