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PORTRAITS OF THE ARTIST

BY JENNY JOHNSON SYKES, TRACY BOYD, AND OTHERS

© 2007 by Jenny Johnson Sykes & Tracy Boyd

FOLLOWED BY A SELECTION OF PORTRAITS BY THE ARTIST

Buffie Johnson painted scores of portraits, almost all of which are either in private collections or in museums, the venerable National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution among them. Throughout her career, and regardless of what period of her work the artist was engaged in, she continued her portraiture, capturing the essence of her many sitters. 


In his 1965 essay on “The Transcendentalism of Buffie Johnson,” the literary critic, poet, and Classicist Horace Gregory, observed that after her first drawing – that of a teapot, which was a portrait of sorts – came a succession of “other things.”


    “After the tea-pot, came other things, the rest of the world, and some if its people, looking

    as though they did not quite belong on earth, but had drifted down from interstellar space.


    The atmosphere of arriving from some place in “a world of light” far above the earth still per-

    vades the portraits that she paints.  The picture of her daughter, Jenny, painted when the child

    was scarcely more than a year and a half old, has the same quality.  No less off-earth is her

    sketch of Virgil Thomson, the most light-footed of contemporary composers: one sees the

    outline of his wistful, unsmiling features superimposed upon what looks like a thin drift of

    clouds across pale blue skies.” (Horace Gregory, "The Transcendentalism of Buffie Johnson," Art Inter-

     national, Vol. IX, No. 8, November 20, 1965, page 13.)

THE STILL-LIFES OF THE EARLY PERIOD: PORTRAITS OF A KIND


The early still-lifes were, themselves, portraits of a kind, at times indistinguishable in style from the human portraits that were set in very romanticized dream-like landscapes.  There were also scenes of, say, a sumptuous slice of watermelon set out in a close foreground with curious vistas through mysterious doorways leading into room after room in the distance.  There were numerous portraits of the usual fruits and vegetables which typify the subject of still-life, but there was always something unusual about them, something other-worldly.  


The literary critic, poet, and Classicist Horace Gregory, whom we have quoted above in regard to this “other-worldly” tendency in the artist’s portraits, remarked that following her earliest drawing of a tea-pot “came other things, the rest of the world, and some if its people, looking as though they did not quite belong on earth, but had drifted down from interstellar space.  The atmosphere of arriving from some place in “a world of light” far above the earth still pervades the portraits that she paints.” (Horace Gregory, "The Transcendentalism of Buffie Johnson," Art International, Vol. IX, No. 8, November 20, 1965, page 13.)  The still-lifes share this quality, much in evidence in her 1942 Still Life With Eggplant, a work that equally exhibits the dream-like landscape so typical of many of the portraits.  In fact, a slightly earlier portrait from the year before of The Poet (John Latouche) set side by side with the artist’s Still Life With Eggplant, shows an identical and continuous landscape as the backdrop for both “portraits”.

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

SELF-PORTRAIT, 1944.

oil on canvas  24” X 18”

Private Collection

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

JENNY JOHNSON SYKES, 1952.

oil on canvas  25” X 22”

Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

That look of not quite belonging on earth perfectly describes the look captured by numerous photographers who made portraits of Buffie Johnson over the space of many years.  Her own self-portraits have this visage of being (from) somewhere else. 


In a somewhat unusual exegesis of the artist’s tendency towards romanticism, as evidenced in the works exhibited in her solo show at Howard Putzel’s 67 Gallery in New York in 1945, the reviewer for Town & Country made a number of most astute observations:


    “Nuance is her forte, the most delightful things in her canvases are the least obvious, and with

    her adroit sleight-of-hand technique she has created a personal world somewhere just the other

    side of reality.  It is a romantic world more allied to the past than the present, but most agreeable

    to enter.


    Her romanticism is less obvious in her latest canvases, but to our mind it forms the basis of her    

    approach, even when she has attempted to deny it.  Her most striking painting is an oversized self

    portrait which has a prophetic quality reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Sibyls in the Sistine    

    Chapel.” (Town & Country, February 1945.)

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

WOMAN WITH VEIL SELF-PORTRAIT, 1936.

oil on canvas  10” X 12”

Private Collection

BUFFIE JOHNSON posing in her

Duchess de la Nera Castilla de Redonda regalia for her U.S. Passport photo

issued May 14, 1948.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Gerald Sykes, Jenny Johnson Sykes,

and Buffie Johnson (Sykes): A Family Portrait

from a series of photos by Hans Namuth, East Hampton,

For U.S. Passports issued September 13, 1954.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Magazine photo shoot, New York, circa 1943.

Buffie Johnson Mouthing an “O”.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Magazine photo shoot, New York, circa 1943.

Buffie Johnson with street boys on townhouse stoop.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

© Andre Kertesz, Buffie Johnson

at 235 East 58th Street, New York,

for Town & Country, February, 1943.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

HUGH FREEMANTLE, 194?.

oil on canvas size unknown

Collection of Mr. Hugh Freemantle

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

WILLIAM KING, 1974.

oil on linen  20” X 16”

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

© Edward Weston, Buffie Johnson, 1943.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Photo by Cynthia MacAdams of Buffie Johnson, 1976.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Photo by Dorothy Beskind, 1971.

Buffie Johnson in her studio

at 231 East 77th Street, New York.

Her painting, Akropolis, stands on the easel behind her.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

                                      Photo by Patience Abbe, 1984.

Buffie Johnson, outfitted in a 19th century costume,

seems to have appeared suddenly out of her painting, Io

at her studio/loft at 102 Greene Street, New York

Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes.  Io: Private Collection.

Photo by Patience Abbe, 1984.

Buffie Johnson showing off her late 1930s Dior dress

at 102 Greene Street, New York.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

In 1937, Buffie Johnson’s first exhibition opened at Jake Zeitlin’s renowned Red Barn Bookstore/Gallery in Los Angeles.  Accord-ing to the artist’s draft of her “Portrait of the Artist by the Writer: A Self-Interview by Buffie Johnson,” this was the rare books dealer who had shown Edward Weston’s first exhibition of photographs years earlier.

© Tracy boyd, Floating, 1971.

Personal Collection of Tracy Boyd

© PORTRAIT OF BUFFIE JOHNSON BY VIRGIL THOMSON,

BUFFIE JOHNSON DRAWING V. T. IN CHARCOAL.

V. T. NEW YORK     30 DECEMBER 1981.

Inscribed: “Dear Buffie According to the music firm but jolly anyway

affection Virgil T. 1982.”

Musical Score: Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

PORTRAIT OF BUFFIE JOHNSON BY VIRGIL THOMSON

Burnell the Photographer, Beauty and the Beast.

Buffie Johnson hugging a stone lion at the

John and Mabel Ringling Estate, 1947.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

© Margrethe Mather, Buffie Johnson, 1933.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Buffie Johnson was a frequent guest at the Ringling Estate where she learned to swallow fire and perform all manner of interesting entertainments.  Her host, A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., was the avant-garde entrepreneur of the arts, formerly of the famed Wadsworth Atheneum.  He was now the Director of the Ringling Museum of Art and, aside from his enumerable other talents, was an accomplished magician in his own right.  My mother often remarked that the days she’d spent exploring the treasure-filled museum warehouse and the moments she’d been in the company of the performers of the circus troupe, were the most exhilarating times of her life.  She really felt that she was in her element. 


As a reminder of that very special world, we here recite P. T. Barnum’s memorable words written for the Ringmaster whose mesmerizing call was shouted out in solemn tones at the opening of the first circus ring and of all that followed thereafter:


    “Ladies and Gentlemen.  Children of all

    ages.  This is a magic ring, a fairy ring,

    a circle as mysterious as Stonehenge.”


Buffie Johnson was given two solo exhibitions at

The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, one

in 1948 and another the following year, in which a

From Buffie Johnson’s obituary in The New York Times, September 2, 2006.            © Photo by Karl Bissinger, 1949.

Tanaquil LeClerq, Donald Windham, Buffie Johnson, Tennessee Williams, and Gore Vidal at the Cafe Nicholson.

number of her celebrated portraits were shown, including those of her friends, playwright Tennessee Williams and the architect Tony Smith who, years later, would become a minimalist sculptor of monumental works.


The artist herself was portrayed with Tennessee Williams and other friends in a widely published 1949 photograph by her dear friend, the photographer Karl Bissinger.  The photograph initially appeared in the first issue of Fleur Cowles’s Flair Magazine in February 1950 accompanying a piece by Charles J. Rolo titled “The New Bohemia.” The London Times ran it at about the same time and there were numerous other versions that followed of the now-famous scene at the legendary Cafe Nicholson on East 58th Street in New York.  Years later it resurfaced, appearing in the July 1972 issue of After Dark


Buffie Johnson’s September 2, 2006 obituary in The New York Times featured Bissinger’s iconic image, as did Karl Bissinger’s own obituary that appeared not so long after in that paper on November 25,

2008.  <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/arts/design/25bissinger.html?_r=2&ref=designIn tribute to those younger days captured by the photograph, and to the photographer who forever froze that moment in time, Gore Vidal most recently wrote a piece for the October 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. The headliner read: “Salad Days: Karl Bissinger’s 1949 photograph of the author and a few friends at lunch in a Manhattan restaurant invokes the optimism of youth.” <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/indelible-vidal.html>

There was yet another view chosen from the contact sheet of this same scene that had appeared some years earlier in Mary Cantwell’s “A Nightspot to Remember,” a touching farewell – fifty years later – to Johnny Nicholson’s closing of the cafe that appeared in the January 1999 issue of Vanity Fair. Buffie Johnson was quoted in that article as saying, “everyone knew everyone else, and you knew you were making history.”


Reminiscing about her lost student days in Paris, my mother fondly recalled that in the warm and open cafe society atmosphere of late 1930s Paris, one could not help but encounter creative soul-mates every day of the week.  She describes this period of her life in her brief self-interview, “Portrait of the Artist by the Writer,” in which she says, “It was an incandescent time fueled by painting and by extraordinary friends . . . who’d sit and talk at the cafes.”  She counted among her closest friends in those days, the Surrealist poet David Gascogne, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and the Romanian poet and leading Dadaist, Tristan Tzara.  And nearly every evening of that first glorious 1938 summer in Paris was spent with Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller.  There were also her rigorous classes at Stanley Hayter’s premiere printmaking Atelier 17 in Paris, where she met many established artists, including Picasso who was in her engraving class.


She explained that:   

    “Everywhere, you see, were allusions and amazing people creating new imperatives.  But best

    of all, for me, was the tolerance, the acceptance of one’s choices.  My heart was in the right

    place for painting . . . in whatever painting I was doing.  For us expatriates, Paris seemed an    

    illuminating mirror hinting of glitter in all it reflects – a painting, a photo, a poem, . . . or

    maybe simply a sense of belonging . . .”


These were extraordinary experiences in view of – or maybe because of – the dark shadow of war that grew closer and closer as every day passed.  When the war was over, some of that same “sense of belonging” could be found in New York.  It was especially in evidence at the Cafe Nicholson, the very elegant cafe society hangout that would become a second home to so many creative stars and which, as luck would have it, was just down the street from Buffie Johnson’s 58th Street townhouse.


“. . . a sense of belonging . . .”


Karl Bissinger was an established fashion photographer at the time that he made this most famous of photographs – just one among so many of his grand photographs.  And he was Johnny Nicholson’s partner in this very successful cafe venture.  This group of friends were his friends, all of whom had become friends before they had made a name for themselves – when they were aspiring to become who they would become.  At this particular moment in time, all of those pictured had already made their marks upon the world. 


Looking at this table of young luminaries frozen in time:

The twenty year-old Tanaquil LeClerq who had danced with Balanchine’s School of American Ballet from the age of twelve was now a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.  A not quite thirty year old Donald Windham, who seems to be studying the ballerina, had been a contributor to and editor of Lincoln Kirsten’s Dance Index, and had then collaborated with Tennessee Williams on the Broadway stage play of D. H. Lawrence’s story, You Touched Me.  Gore Vidal (far right) is imaged as the picture of youth itself.  This gorgeous twenty-four year old had, by the time of the taking of this photograph by his dear friend Karl Bissinger, published four novels.


Seated next to him is Tennessee Williams, the oldest of the group by nearly a year, who had won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award in 1945 for his The Glass Menagerie, and in 1948, accom-panied by wide adulation, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire.  In between all of this fame, he had managed, one summer in Provincetown, to sit for his portrait by his friend Buffie Johnson.  Her 1947 portrait of him now hangs in The National Portrait Gallery of The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.

everyone knew everyone else, and you knew you were making history.

Regardless of the persistence of snippy false rumors that these two friends had parted company on bad terms in the 1950s, a lie that was promulgated in her obituary in The New York Times despite gallant efforts to convince the writer of its falsehood, they remained good friends until his death.  In 1977, when Tennessee Williams’s play, Vieux Carre, was set to open at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, my mother was the person whom the playwright entrusted to sit next to him to calm his very frazzled opening-night nerves.  So much for rumors!

Buffie Johnson (center) who, it seems, really did know everyone, was, at the age of thirty-seven, now an established artist who had had thirteen solo exhibitions and had participated in numerous group shows including the celebrated 1943 landmark show, Exhibition by 31 Women, curated by Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst and mounted by Peggy Guggenheim at her famed Art of This Century Gallery in New York.


In 1950, the artist would marry, move from the marvelous cafe society life of New York to the quiet of East Hampton, and on December 15th of that year, give birth to a baby girl who would grow up to say, as I always did, “Hi!  I’m Jenny Johnson Sykes, Buffie Johnson’s daughter.” 

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS (PROVINCETOWN), 1947.

oil on canvas  20” X 16”

The National Portrait Gallery

of The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.

All was not solemnity and solitude on Briar Patch Road in East Hampton.  And while others may have been “far from civilization unquote,” we ourselves were not as far away as some may have imagined.  My mother, as you know, was an artist; my father, Gerald Sykes, a writer and critic.  Their circles crossed, criss-crossed, and over-lapped so many times that it was a wonderment that it had taken so long for them to meet.  They knew so many of the same people that it was inevitable that the cafe society spirit would live on in some other incarnation.  And so it did, with an ever-replenished stream of artists, writers, poets, playwrights, composers, actors, dancers, mythologists, analysts, publishers, art collectors, philosophers, diplomats, intellectuals and, of course, photographers, who visited “Windover,” our house in East Hampton.


These were the people who made up our world in East Hampton and in New York.  Most of these people knew each other, too, and there was rarely more than a degree or two of separation between any of them.  This was the way things worked in New York and its nearby summering holes when New York was New York.  These were the people that my mother painted even while she was working on what she called her “regular” paintings, by which she meant whichever specific style she was painting in at the time.

“am far from civilization unquote--sorry!”

A December 5, 1952 postcard addressed to Buffie Johnson Sykes in East Hampton

from e. e. cummings, 6 Wyman Road in Cambridge.  This was the entire message!

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

In East Hampton, everything was abstraction.  The great eastward migration of artists and writers from New York to East Hampton started with Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner and spread like wildfire.  There were so many artists by 1962 that they could barely fit into one photo-graph.  Hans Namuth’s unforgettable “Asparagus Beach” photograph has been re-produced again and again.  It is the portrait of all portraits.  The image shown here, which is only half of the whole photograph, appeared in 2002 on the cover of Helen A. Harrison and Constance Ayers Denne’s commemoration, Hamptons Bohemia: Two Centuries of Artists and Writers on the Beach with a forward by Edward Albee. 

Standing second from left, Buffie Johnson looks right into the camera.  The full photo, with a list of the entire cast of memorable characters, is in Hamptons Bohemia.  

© Photo by Hans Namuth, 1962.

Everything in East Hampton seemed bigger than life.  I don’t think that it was my child’s perspec-tive that made it seem so.  Everything really was bigger than life - especially the art.  In the late fifties, my mother was commissioned to create the murals for the Astor Theatre in New York, a work of art that would turn out to be the largest abstract painting in the world.  Each canvas panel was ten feet by five feet, and there were 224 of them.  There were also two additional panels, each measuring ten by twenty-five feet. 


A long-time friend, the photographer Ambur Hiken, documented the progress of the making of the murals at the same time as she was preparing the images for her own book with Betty Alswang, who wrote the text of The Personal House: Homes of Artists and Writers.  These were portraits of a kind that captured the life of an artist surrounded by a sea of ultramarine blue.

I was dazzled by this sea of blue every day.  I would come home from school and there would be more of it than there had been when I had left in the early morning.  For a very long time I was convinced that my mother was some kind of a magician.  There was a super-human quality about the multiplication of these huge paintings that emerged from her studio day after day.  And, irony of ironies, the unveiling of the completed murals took place in the Astor Theatre on my 9th birthday.  I thought it a most spectacular present.

Buffie Johnson, standing on her painting stair, and Jenny Johnson Sykes, schoolbooks still in hand, inspect the days work on the Astor Murals.

Photo by Ambur Hiken, 1959.

When we moved (back) to New York in 1966, the photographers, it seemed, came with us.  A sampling of portraits of my mother from that period – some of her favorites – have been included in the images shown above.  I add a few more here for good measure.

Photo by Cheri Nutting, early 1990s

Buffie Johnson at 102 Greene Street, New York

Backdrop is a painting from

“The Numbering Series.“

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Buffie Johnson on the terrace of her apartment

at No. 15 Inmeuble Itesa

Tangier, Morocco, early 1990s

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

© Photo by Tracy boyd, 1970.

Buffie Johnson

Putting the finishing touches on Lapis 82” X 68”.

Personal Collection of Tracy Boyd

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

© Photo by Tracy boyd, 1971.

Buffie Johnson and Huntington Hartford,

Paradise Island, 1971.

Personal Collection of Tracy Boyd

© Photo by Tracy boyd, 1973.

Buffie Johnson between the Horns of Consecration

near the Palace of Knossos, Heraklion, Crete, 1973.

Personal Collection of Tracy Boyd

Photo by Patience Abbe, 1984.

Buffie Johnson hiding behind her painting Eve

at her studio at 102 Greene Street, New York.

Eve, 52” X 52”, Collection of Peter Cranbrook

Photo: Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

Stella Snead, Lawrence Durrell, Buffie Johnson.

Relaxing among old friends.

Personal Collection of Jenny Johnson Sykes

A SELECTION OF PORTRAITS (AND STILL-LIFES) BY THE ARTIST

MOST ARE IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, BUT . . .

A FEW ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE – AS MARKED

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

HELEN MILONAS, 1968.

oil on linen 96” X 38”

Collection of the Honorable & Mrs. Leo Milonas

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

NEW MOON, 1940.

oil on canvas  15 3/4” X 10”

Private Collection

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

RUTH FORD, 1943.

oil on canvas  20” X 17”

Collection of Ruth Ford

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

ERICA SIMPSON, 1942.

oil on canvas  26” X 20”

Collection of Erica Simpson

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

EUGENE SCHWARTZ, 1974.

oil on linen  24” X 20”

Collection of Eugene & Barbara Schwartz

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

TONY SMITH, 1947.

oil on canvas  27” X 21 3/4”

Collection of Jane Lawrence Smith (Mrs. Tony Smith)

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

SELF-PORTRAIT, 1942.

oil on canvas  20” X 16”

Collection of John Latham

As reported in conversation by Buffie Johnson – and confirmed by the composer and critic himself – in his New York Herald Tribune review of the newly designed John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, Virgil Thomson, with his usual brilliant wit, described the shade of the galleries’ pale grey walls as “elephant’s breath grey.” (It doesn’t get better than that!)

On January 26, 1947, the New York Sunday Mirror ran a story about “a treasure trove of 17th century garden sculptures” from northern Italy that the Ringlings had purchased two decades earlier.  The statues, including the stone lion, had been languishing unseen under tropical foliage all those years on the Ringling Estate in Sarasota, Florida.  The new director of The John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art had uncovered them, and the elephants, who always wintered on the estate, were taking great pleasure in helping to rescue the statues from their jungle of oblivion.

“elephant’s breath grey”

BUFFIE JOHNSON’S 1963 OIL PORTRAIT OF VIRGIL THOMSON.

oil on masonite  23 3/4” X 19 1/2”

The Virgil Thomson Room at the Conservatory Library

of The University of Missouri at Kansas City, Missouri.

© Photo by Tracy boyd, 1970.

Buffie Johnson with her 1968 painting Autumn

at 231 East 77th Street, New York.

Personal Collection of Tracy Boyd

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

JUDITH WITH THE HEAD OF HOLOFERNES, 1942.

[Self-Portrait with Portrait Head of . . . ]

oil on canvas  20” X 16”

Collection of Edward Melcarth

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

PIERRE DE LANUX, 1944.

oil on canvas 20” X 16” [N/A]

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

FRANK CROWNINSHIELD, 1946.

oil on canvas 26” X 20” [N/A]

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

ADAM BUCHANAN, 1943.

oil on canvas 32” X 26” [N/A]

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

NED (GIRL IN RED STOCKINGS), 1940.

(RELINED LATE 1990S)  20” X 16”

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

THE SURREALIST-INFLUENCED PORTRAITS OF THE EARLY PERIOD


About the Surrealist-influenced portraits of this early period, which we have not shown here, Anne Conover gives us a brief but very complete description in her biography of Caresse Crosby: “The next show [the gallery’s second] was “portraits by Buffie Johnson.”  The Washington Times-Herald reported, “In private life, Mrs. John Latham, A.U.S., a bewitching young person whose portraits have been acclaimed by art connoisseurs and directors of national galleries.  Her exhibition . . . has attracted art lovers from all walks of life.”  Johnson was photographed in the gallery before a 17th-century toile tapestry, sketching a provocative likeness of Caresse languishing under a phosphorescent sea with seaweed draped around her shoulders and seahorses and cockleshells floating about.  In the lower right corner, Johnson had scrawled a line from T.S. Eliot: “Till human voices wake us and we drown.”


(Anne Conover, Caresse Crosby: From Black Sea to Roccasinibalda. Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1989, pages 90-91, quoting the Washington Times Herald of Saturday, April 29, 1944.)

This was the 1944 show at Caresse Crosby’s G Place Gallery in Washington, D.C.

BUFFIE JOHNSON, FETE, [SELF-PORTRAIT IN TRIAD] (OIL ON BOARD), 1936.  22” X 36” [N/A]

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

STILL LIFE WITH EGGPLANT, 1942.

oil on canvas 13” X 19” [N/A]

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE POET (JOHN LATOUCHE), 1940-41.

oil on canvas  15” X 22”

Collection of Virginia Commonwealth University, Anderson Gallery, Richmond, Virginia

Occasionally, too, there are compositional similarities between Johnson’s still-lifes and portraits. We see this in her 1942 Ariadne: Danger of Contemplation, a painting that we have discussed at great length in “From the Very Beginning . . .”, and Still Life With Asparagus, whose white tablecloth is every bit as sumptuous as her flowing landscapes.

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

STILL LIFE WITH ASPARAGUS, 1945.

oil on canvas 17.5” X 28.5”

Private Collection

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

ARIADNE: DANGER OF CONTEMPLATION, 1942

(Imaginary Self-Portrait)

oil on canvas 10” X 13”

Private Collection

BUFFIE JOHNSON,

THE STUDIO, 1942.

oil on canvas 33.5” X 19.5”

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE