Johnson, William Henry – American artist

William Henry Johnson (American, 1901 to 1970)

Johnson and his Danish wife Holcha Krake, a successful textile artist, lived in the picturesque fishing village of Kerteminde, Denmark for several years starting in 1930 just after their marriage took place there. He enjoyed these years. He developed a strong camaraderie with the locals, particularly the fishermen, who referred to him as “Willie”. During this period, he was asked by a Danish newspaper reporter if it was possible for a foreigner and a man of his race to paint Danish landscapes and Danish portraits. His answer,”Why not? On the contrary, I say that I have never worked as well in any place as in Kerteminde. In no place have I had greater peace in which to work,nor better motifs than right here in Denmark”.

Johnson is known to have experimented with an apparatus called a “fish lens”, which allows an artist to view an area wider than is possible by the human eye. It works somewhat like a wide-angle lens and the view tends to bend and curve in order to fit into the lens’ concave form. The artist had almost certainly used the device in creating the present picture with its slightly distorted perspective, undulating forms and gestural strokes.

(Richard J. Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, New York, 1991, pp.61-2).

Information courtesy of Sotheby’s, September 2008.

About This Site

Internet Antique Gazette is brought to you by Prices4Antiques.