William H. Johnson

Life Dates:
1901 – 1970
Artist Biography:
William H. Johnson's artistic career was fraught with hardship and his talent was never fully recognized until after his death through the donation of his work to the Smithsonian. He was a self-taught artist, copying comic strips at a young age. His first art supplies come from a teacher who saw him practicing how to draw in the dirt. As a teen, Johnson left school to help support his family and later traveled to New York to study art. After working several years to support this goal, he enrolled in the National Academy of Design where he was taken under the wing of artist Charles Hawthorne. From there, he spent many years in Denmark and Norway, building up a strong reputation for himself and his art. After the death of his wife in 1944, the artist fell ill and was eventually hospitalized in 1947, never painting again. Regardless, his legacy as one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century will not be forgotten.