Often times sites and images of common things can go unnoticed as we carry on through our day. Such things as, the light turning green before we cross the street, how tall is a building, an elderly women with groceries passing on the street, a person hailing a cab on the sidewalk, or a older fellow in the park. Yet, as we may take these things for granted, those with an eye for the purity of every day life, see this as unique wonders of the human experience.
One such person is a true American artist by the name of John Seward Johnson. In 1968, after an early career as a painter, John Seward Johnson, turned this talent into the medium of sculpture. Best known for his life-sized cast bronze figures of ordinary people, Johnson has expressed his genius through contemporary life situations. Johnson's works bring a sense of humor, sincerity, creativity and genuine intrigue to the hustle and bustle of everyday living, with a grace and charm not usually seen.
Johnson's bronze figures have been featured in private collections and museums in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia; as well as most prominent places in the public such as, Rockefeller Center, Pacific Place, Hong Kong, Les Halles in Paris and Via Condotti in Rome.
Surprisingly each sculpture is entirely made of bronze. The realism of the textures and details is the hallmark of Johnson's art and this detailing is achieved with hours and hours of intense labor. To achieve these life-like figures, Seward Johnson starts the process with a 12 inch tall sketch in clay, then increases this to life scale.
If you have ever experienced seeing his art, you may think the skin tones are real. This is made possible with fabrics pressed into the clay. Sometimes articles of clothing are stiffened with a resin and used in the mold. Yet, there is no clothing on top of, or under the bronze.
Real occupational persons are used to perfect the face and body type for the story of the sculpture. When he was doing a gardner, he went and talked with gardeners and landscapers.
A unique chemistry has been developed for the colors for his sculptures for years, in a effort to fool the eye. The skin on the pieces remain a traditional bronze patina and the current opaque colors are achieved using the type of paints that are the most advanced pigments used on airplanes. This is to insure resistants to climate conditions.
Seward Johnson now at age 82, lives in Princeton, New Jersey and on Nantucket. Seward Johnson had the unusual experience of growing up as the heir to one of America's largest fortunes as the grandson of the founder of Johnson + Johnson. One would think a fortune like that would grant a life of leisure, However, Johnson is quite actively involved in both his art and an array of other interests.
A charming and philosophical man, with a tendency toward irreverent wit. He loves to anonymously loiter around his public sculptures and make negative remarks to fellow viewers of the art to see what the real response to his work is!