This is the first gallery exhibition of works by William H. Johnson in over fifty years. This exhibition was made possible by the exciting discovery of twenty-seven major works by William H. Johnson from the estate of Mary Beattie Brady, director of the Harmon Foundation for more than forty years.
The Harmon Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing African-American culture and education, was founded by William E. Harmon in 1922 and headed by Mary Beattie Brady. If not for the efforts of Mary Beattie Brady, nearly Johnson's entire oeuvre would have been lost. In the 1950s Ms. Brady arranged for the Harmon Foundation to store and take responsibility for the more than 1000 artworks by Johnson that were otherwise destined to be destroyed.
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery recently acquired the collection of Mary Beattie Brady including ten of Johnson's expressionist oil paintings executed during the 1920s and 1930s depicting still lifes and European landscapes, as well as three landscape watercolors. In addition, the collection includes thirteen rare William H. Johnson pochoirs of American genre scenes, executed in the early 1940s.
This recent discovery of Johnson's work is significant as the vast majority of Johnson's oeuvre - more than one thousand paintings, drawings and prints - was given to the National Museum of American Art (NMAA), Washington, DC by the Harmon Foundation in 1967 when the foundation was being terminated. Although the NMAA distributed scores of works to museums and university galleries, Johnson's work is rarely seen outside of the NMAA. Therefore, the presentation of William H. Johnson: Works from the Collection of Mary Beattie Brady at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is an extremely rare opportunity to view major works by this important American artist.