LESTER JOHNSON – Figurative Oil Paintings from the 1960s

7 September – 6 October, 2007

ACME Fine Art’s Fall season will open on Friday, 7 September 2007 with an exhibition of oil paintings by the noted figurative expressionist artist Lester Johnson. A reception at the gallery from six to eight that evening will kick off the exhibition.

Lester Johnson is one of the relative handful of avant-garde artists who abandoned non-figurative painting in the 1950s in order to harness the power of the human figure as a primary vehicle for artistic self-expression. Today Johnson is recognized as one of the most important and influential painters of his generation. Since his first solo exhibition at New York’s Artists Gallery in 1951, Johnson’s work has been featured in more than 100 solo exhibitions, and included in important group exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to name just a few. Lester Johnson’s work is in the permanent public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. (Complete lists of permanent Collections and Exhibitions, and a chronology is available on-line at acmefineart.com.)

ACME Fine Art’s first solo exhibition of Lester Johnson’s work will feature fifteen oil paintings from what was a pivotal decade for Johnson: the 1960s. During the 1960s the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York, and the H.C.E. and the Sun galleries in Provincetown were frequent venues for Johnson’s contemporary work. It was also during this decade that Johnson’s paintings were selected for inclusion in seminal exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His canvases from this period are bold and vigorously expressive regardless of scale, and they demonstrate a poetic virtuosity that has become Lester Johnson’s hallmark.

Much has been written about Lester Johnson and his work from the 1960s. The quotations selected for this piece were chosen for their eloquence and insight into the artist and his work, and they are intended to both illuminate the paintings, and to shed light on Lester Johnson’s place in American art history. Speaking about his own work from this period Johnson said the following: “There is no balance in my paintings because balance seems to me to be static. Life, which I try to reflect in my paintings, is dynamic…. To me my paintings are action paintings -paintings that move across the canvas, paintings that do not get stuck, but flow like time.” To which the noted critic and art historian Dore Ashton added: “And so they did.”

LESTER JOHNSON: Oil Paintings from the 1960s will be on view at ACME Fine Art, Boston through 6 October 2007. ACME Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Gallery hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday.