Danish resonances and repercussions in the life and work of William H. Johnson

    Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review


    William H. Johnson was an outstanding African-American artist, represented with hundreds of works in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s collection, but he was also a resident of Denmark for the better part of the 1930s, and again for a brief spell after WWII. While studying art in Paris in the late 1920s he met Danish textile artist Holcha Krake, fell in love with her, traveled with her throughout Europe, and eventually followed her to Denmark where they married and settled down in Kerteminde. [Slide 2] My paper traces some of the complications involved in being a black artist in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia in that period. I shall take a look at the reception of his work (and that of Holcha Krake) in all three Scandinavian countries (they both spent considerable time in Norway and Sweden as well as in Holcha’s native Denmark) which routinely exoticizes Johnson and his art in language and images we would nowadays find grotesque, or bordering on racist, but which then apparently was the only way in which he could be familiarized as a cultural other.
    Publikationsdato21 sep. 2016
    Antal sider7
    StatusUdgivet - 21 sep. 2016
    BegivenhedDenmark and the African-American Culture - Københavns Universitet, København, Danmark
    Varighed: 21 sep. 201622 sep. 2016


    KonferenceDenmark and the African-American Culture
    LokationKøbenhavns Universitet


    • African-American studies
    • Painting