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George Johnson (artist)

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George Johnson (artist)

For other people of the same name, see George Johnson (disambiguation).
George Johnson
Born 1926 (age 87–88)
Nelson, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealander/Australian
Field Painting
Training Theo Schoon
Movement Constructivism
Works Mount of the Blue Triangle

Albury Art Prize
Orange Art Prize
Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council Grant

George's Invitation Art Purchase Prize

George Johnson (born 1926 in Nelson, New Zealand) is an artist who made his name in Australia.

Artistic career

Early career

Johnson studied art under the emigre artist and Bauhaus graduate Theo Schoon, who confirmed an early commitment to modernist art, especially Geometric Abstraction.

He graduated from Wellington Technical College in 1947.

Move to Australia

Johnson decided to relocate to Melbourne, Australia, in 1951 where he was soon drawn into contemporary art circles, mixing with Leonard French, Roger Kemp, Inge King, Julius Kane, Peter Graham, Clement Meadmore and others. He held his first solo exhibition there at the age of 30 in 1956, a selection of boldly geometric abstractions which set the art scene buzzing. By this time he was sharing a studio with French and the pair experienced increasing friction from the Heide Circle. This comprised a rival group of figurative modernists who were still trying to control the Contemporary Art Society, including Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Charles Blackman and Robert Dickerson. The latter artists eventually formed the Antipodeans Group, staging an exhibition in August 1959, initially to make a stand against Johnson, French, Kemp and a growing number of non-objectivist followers, although increasingly to express their opposition to American Abstract Expressionism which they feared was about to overwhelm Australian art.

Johnson has remained unwaveringly committed to geometric abstraction in the many decades since, producing paintings that are stylistically and intellectually indebted to Russian Constructivism.


Vanya Taule'alo, the renowned Pasifika artist, is George's daughter. Louis Johnson, the celebrated poet and author, was George's brother.


Johnson, George H. 'Art and the World Around Us: An Essay on Experimental Art', Parent and Child (Wellington, N.Z.) Vol. 3, No. 6, August 1957.

Johnson, George H. 'Art Education: A Viewpoint', Art Craft Teachers' Association Magazine, (Victoria) No. 16, August 1973

Zimmer, Jenny, George Johnson and ineluctable abstraction, Art and Australia Vol 24, No.2, Summer 1986.

McCulloch, Allan, Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Hutchinson, Melbourne 1987.

Heathcote, Christopher & Zimmer, Jenny, George Johnson: World View, Macmillan Publishers Australia, Melbourne 2006.

See also

External links

  • George Johnson at the Charles Nodrum Gallery
  • Mount of the Blue Triangle 1986 at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

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