Tag Archives: George Johanson

Scatter news and scatter notes

\"Gross Clinic,\" Thomas EakinsNews: The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Academy of Art have raised the $68 million necessary to buy Thomas Eakins’ “Gross Clinic” and keep it in Philadelphia. Without a city-wide effort to purchase it, “Gross Clinic” would have headed to Bentonville, Ark., and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by a Wal-Mart heiress.

Notes: So, the question arises, what paintings residing in Oregon would (or should) generate a similar effort to keep them in the state? My quick, short, wrong list: 1.) The C.S. Prices at the Central Library. 2.) The Hilda Morris bronze sculpture in front of the Standard Insurance Building on S.W. 6th Ave. (and maybe her sculptures on the lawn at Reed College). 3.) The Isaka Shamsud-Din painting of the pool hall. Isn’t it at the Portland Art Museum? 4.) Cindy Parker’s big painting at the Convention Center. 5.) The multi-paneled James Lavadour that usual resides at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton. But that’s a very fast, rough cut (obviously!). Help me out!

News: Francis Bacon’s 1976 Triptych goes on sale at Sotheby’s in New York on May 14 and is expected to fetch somewhere around $70 million. It’s the last major Bacon painting still in private hands.

Notes: Yesterday, we connected the British painter Francis Bacon to Portland artist George Johanson — Bacon, David Hockney and the Brits he met at the Birgit Skiold printmaking studios in London helped to confirm his decision to leave Abstract Expressionism behind and re-embrace the figure. Art Scatter has a certain fondness for Bacon, both his gruesome paintings and his tumultuous personal life, from his days in the Weimar demi-monde to Paris to London. We like the sense of dread that hovers over his paintings, his reduction of humans to slabs of beef, those famous gaping mouths that suggest torture. He prefigures, maybe even predicts, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and the Dark Ops rooms in Eastern Europe, although he was probably citing Nazi torture chambers. It’s possible that this reading is too political, though; maybe he thought he was representing the human condition period, not the human condition in extremis.

Although I don’t have the receipts in front of me, I’m pretty confident that no George Johanson painting has ever commanded $70 million. Heck, the prints at Pulliam Deffenbaugh are $850 apiece, not to equate them with Triptych, which is a major Bacon painting. But the sensuality of Johanson’s paintings, without a glimmer of S/M in sight, has a dark, mysterious element, that speaks to us, too. Things are about to happen in them, voluptuous things, sexual things, passionate things, rarely creepy things. I like their possibility.

News:The San Francisco Ballet is in the middle of a festival of new work — 10 new dances by the likes of Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, James Kudelka and Christopher Wheeldon.

Notes: Lots of those names will be familiar to White Bird and Oregon Ballet Theatre fans. And the San Francisco Ballet itself will be in town for White Bird’s “4 X 4 — The Ballet Project.”

George Johanson, printed and embossed!


The busy, intersecting circles and lines of Milton Wilson paintings catch the eye first at Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery — they are on the wall opposite the door after all and their hum is hard to ignore. But this isn’t about Milton Wilson. Take a few steps more and pivot to the right and the maneuver leads to a set of seven sweet prints by George Johanson.

Maybe they won’t read as Johansons to many of us who own Johanson prints — those great Portland night scenes, with the river below us full of rowers, the volcano erupting in the distance, a cat streaking across the frame, full of interesting textures and visual delights. The prints at Pulliam-Deffenbach date back to 1970 — no night scenes, no cats and, of course, no volcanoes. There are seven of them — part of the 10-part Juxtapositions series, that Johanson created on an Arts Advocates grant in London at the Birgit Skiold studios — consigned to the gallery by their owner. And, not to make too big a deal out of them, they make a great case all by themselves for what has made Johanson so much fun to follow during his career, namely, his skill with line, his happy refusal to allow any “school” to limit him, and his imagination, which we already know about from his later prints and paintings. (No one I can think of has re-imagined Portland to the extent Johanson has, a theatrical Portland, filled it with sensual mysteries and a taste of the surreal, where the carnival never stops, all staged on a deck somewhere in the hills above the city.)
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