William H. Johnson Coloring Book


William Johnson’s bright paintings of people working, dancing, playing music, and posing for portraits are collected here, along with some of his glowing still lifes. His powerful scenes of African American life are both joyful and unexpectedly profound. The line drawings produced for this coloring book were traced from reproductions of his original paintings, which are printed in miniature on the inside covers.

A prize-winning artist while still in his teens, African American modernist William H. Johnson (1901–1970) enjoyed an art career that spanned decades and continents. After his youth in South Carolina and New York, Johnson spent the late 1920s and 1930s traveling throughout Europe before settling in Denmark, where he married Danish artist Holcha Krake. As he absorbed the lessons of European modernism, his work became increasingly expressive and emotional. Along with the threat of war in the late ’30s, Johnson’s desire to “paint his own people” prompted him to return to the United States, where he created powerful scenes of African American life in New York and the rural South in a colorful, consciously folk art style. The last 30 years of his life were tragically marked by mental illness, and from his prolific earlier years, he drifted into obscurity. Today he is considered one of the most important African American artists of his generation.

48 pages with 22 images to color

• Soft cover book with staple binding
• High-quality paper perfect for colored pencils, pens, and markers
• Printed with soy-based inks
• Sturdy cover to ensure long-lasting enjoyment
• Coloring pages are blank on the back so they can be cut out and displayed

Published with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Size: 8.5 x 11 x .25 in.


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