Sargent Claude Johnson: A Masterpiece Restored

Oct. 12, 2013Jan. 21, 2014
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, Chandler Wing

Best known for his imagery of animals and people, particularly African and Native Americans, rendered in Abstract Figurative and early modern styles, Sargent Claude Johnson (1888–1967) was one of the first African American artists in California to achieve a national reputation. He worked as a painter, printmaker, and ceramicist, but is best known as a sculptor. Under the auspices of the Federal Arts Project (FAP), Johnson carved a 22-foot-long redwood relief of musicians, animals, birds, and plants as a screen for a pipe organ in the music hall of the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. The organ screen was removed from its original building after the California School of the Blind moved to a new campus in 1980 and was not seen by the public for more than 30 years. The exhibition presents this monumental sculpture, acquired by the Huntington in 2011, for the first time since its restoration, along with details of the restoration project.