I spent the summer road tripping around the East Coast…with stops in DC, Boston, Gettysburg, PA, and Charleston, SC (to name a few). In between all the road food, This American life episodes and Slurpees, I managed to learn a few things. I learned that one sculptor was responsible for many of the sculptures I had seen on my travels. That sculptor is Seward Johnson (his father was co-founder of Johnson and Johnson). I remember seeing his work, the Awakening in DC when I was in college and it was love at first sight. There were these giant feet and hands emerging out of the ground as if someone had mistakenly awoken the giant from his slumber.
The Awakening, now in National Harbor, Maryland
In Gettysburg, his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and a modern day man that looks A LOT like Perry Como peaked my interest as well.
Fast forward to this last weekend when we ventured to Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey (a MUST see if you are ever in New Jersey). Grounds for Sculpture is a sculpture park founded by Seward Johnson, featuring many artists but the main tour de force is Seward Johnson. His pieces are EVERYWHERE. He has such range in his work, from abstract metal, to classical forms and kitschy people. I do have to say that my all time favorite pieces were his sculptures created after Impressionist paintings. They were truly MAGICAL.
(left) Monet’s Garden at Sainte-Adresse, (right) Seward Johnson’s sculpture at Grounds of Sculpture
(top) Édouard Manet – Déjeuner sur L’herbe, (bottom) Seward Johnson sculpture at Grounds of Sculpture
(top) Seward Johnson sculpture, (bottom) Monet – Women in the Garden
I was upset to read that many art critics are not impressed with his talents. The fact that he uses a 3d computer to help create many of his sculptures turned the critics off. The part I don’t get is that with his portrayals of Impressionist paintings, it’s not the quality of the sculptured person that is important, but the entire environment that allows the viewer to feel like they are seeing exactly what the artist was seeing. The main idea behind Impressionism is LIGHT and the OUTDOORS…so his sculptures capture the mood entirely…in the natural environment they were meant for…it’s just pure BRILLIANCE!
Check out more of Seward Johnson’s work here.