Ynez Johnston. American born 1920

Artist Statement



Ynez Johnston was born in 1920 in Berkeley, California. She studied drafting, painting and printmaking at the University of California with Worth Ryder, Erle Loran and Margaret Peterson. Johnston's work is characterized by "jigsaw" shapes reminiscent of primitive designs. Her unique style blends modernism and ancient art forms from her travels to Italy, Mexico, India and Nepal. She has also done 3-dimensional pieces in collaboration with her husband, poet and novelist John Berry, and with ceramic sculptor Adam Mekler.

Her watercolors, oils and etchings of the 1950s and 1960s were rich with complex imagery, and displayed a disciplined and somewhat restrained use of color.

The display of her paintings and etchings in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1951) was the launch of her career as a successful artist.

In later mixed-media pieces, she examined the tactile qualities of surface. The paintings involve the combination, and occasional lamination, of diverse materialsoil, acrylic, dyes, encaustic on cloth, canvas, and raw silk. The colors are vibrant and the images are composite forms suggesting ambiguous architectural, human, animal and plant shapes. Johnston cites Persian and Indian art as influences along with such artists as Matisse, Miro, Klee and Picasso.

She received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, first place in watercolor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1952, and Fresno Art Museum's Distinguished Artist Award in 1992. She exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and at Mitsukoshi in Tokyo. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.

Les Krantz
David Findley Jr. Gallery

Ynez Johnston graduated in 1946 from University of California, Berkeley with honors as a painter and printmaker. Her early work reflected the environment of San Francisco's Chinatown as well as the hills and tempo of the city. While teaching at UC Berkeley she earned an MFA, and travels in Europe and Mexico.

In 1951 she moved to Los Angeles to teach at Chouinard Art Institute. Early grants from the Huntington Hartford, Tiffany and Guggenheim Foundations for her painting and printmaking led to national and international exhibitions and a NEA grant. Extended itineraries in India and Europe enhanced her visual experiences to be expressed through etchings and woodcuts, collages, paintings, wood and bronze sculptures.

Ynez Johnston makes dramatic use of jewel-like colors and bold lines as she references romantic and mystic cultures. The viewer is guided through fantastic kingdoms, exotic structures and magical settings that suggest teeming cities, ambiguous landscapes, voluptuous royal trappings and improbable vehicles.

From the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Art Institute of Chicago, from San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, her art has been celebrated in solo exhibitions. Galleries from Los Angeles, London, Chicago, Tokyo, New York and others throughout Europe and the United States have followed with their own solo shows. Tobey C Moss Gallery


born 1920 Berkeley, CA

education 1941 University of California, Berkeley, B.F.A.

public collections
Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, CA
American Art Museum, Smithsonian, Washington DC
Bakersfield Museum of Art, CA
Ball State University of Art Gallery, Muncie, IN
Brooklyn Museum, NY
Cedars-Sinai Hospital Collection, Los Angeles, CA
Cigna Museum of Art, Philadelphia. PA
City Art Museum of Saint Louis, MO
Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, CO
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Dallas Museum of Art, TX
Vincent Price Gallery/ California State University, Los Angeles
Fresno Art Museum, CA
Grunwald Center Graphic Arts, UCLA/ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles,
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC
Herbert F Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Utica, NY
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
Laguna Beach Museum of Art, CA
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA
Lowe Art Museum, Syracuse University , NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, WI
Montclair Museum, NJ
Museum of Modern Art, NY
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
Oakland Museum of Art, CA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA
Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa, OK
Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
San Diego Fine Arts Museum, CA
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, NM
Sculpture Gardens, Palm City, FL
University of Arizona Art Gallery, Tucson
University of Michigan Art Museum, Ann Arbor
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Worcester Art Museum, MO



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