Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson
by Richard J. PowellThis distinctive volume focuses on the memorable paintings of African American modernist William Henry Johnson. Born and raised in a segregated South Carolina town, Johnson (1901–1970) became an expatriate experimental painter in Paris, then Scandinavia. As an African American working in Europe, he drew on primitivism and his travels in North Africa, exploring styles ranging from Northern European expressionism to boldly colorful narratives. Returning to New York in 1938 with his Danish wife, Johnson captured the edginess of city life in bluesy, nervous paintings. Johnson was ultimately struck with a debilitating mental illness that confined him to a state hospital for the rest of his life, virtually removing his work from the American art scene. This book resurrects the story of one of America’s most original artists.