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May 4, 2014 through September 21, 2014

Seward Johnson: The Retrospective

On May 4, 2014, Grounds For Sculpture will open the largest and most significant exhibition in its history—a presentation of work by its founder, Seward Johnson. The exhibit will feature more than 287 works, including 91 painted trays. His much-acclaimed Forever Marilyn, The Awakening, and Unconditional Surrender will be featured. Works will be sited in three indoor galleries as well as across the 42-acre park campus. Seward Johnson: The Retrospective will be on view through September 21, 2014.

Johnson, age 83, is an American sculptor and philanthropist who has dedicated his career to public art. His life-like bronze and monumental figures are familiar sights throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He is also the founder of the not-for-profit Grounds For Sculpture, which opened its doors to the public in 1992 and includes works from such notable artists as Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, George Segal, and Isaac Witkin. The park, located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, welcomes nearly 160,000 visitors annually.

Seward Johnson: The Retrospective will span five decades of Johnson’s exploration into what he refers to as “The Visceral Moment.” He describes this as the pivotal moment when viewers engage with a piece of artwork and transcend their own place in space and time to experience a heightened connection to their common humanity.

Johnson’s best known works are the lifelike sculptures from his Celebrating the Familiar series. These pieces draw attention to the smallest details of ordinary life: a nap on a park bench, a trip to the grocery story, the pleasure a child takes in an ice cream cone. They have been shown internationally, from Istanbul to Rome, as well as across the United States. “I want my work to disappear into the landscape and then take a viewer by surprise,” Johnson said in a 2002 interview with The New York Times, “After he gets over the shock of being fooled, it becomes an emotional discovery. Then he owns the sculpture. People often revisit their favorites. They become like friends.”

Also on view during Seward Johnson: The Retrospective are works from his Beyond the Frame series. An homage to the Impressionist painters, Beyond the Frame works transform well-known paintings such as Claude Monet’s Garden at Sainte-Addresse and Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe into life-sized three-dimensional tableaux. These works, says Johnson, “allow an intimacy with the paintings that the paintings don’t allow themselves.”

A third series, Icons Revisited, includes works inspired by familiar and time-tested images. His Unconditional Surrender captures the famous Times Square V-Day moment when a sailor kissed a nurse. This iconic sculpture, enlarged to 25 feet, has been invited to Times Square, San Diego, Sarasota, and Rome, Italy. Johnson’s Forever Marilyn, a 26-foot-tall, stainless steel and aluminum Marilyn Monroe complete with white billowing skirt has captured the attention of the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and others.

Throughout the duration of Seward Johnson: The Retrospective, Grounds For Sculpture will offer hands-on art-making workshops inspired by the humor and humanistic insight of this prolific artist , tours of the park and artwork, screenings of archival footage, an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour with Johnson himself, and more.

Click here to view a calendar of upcoming events.


Download The Retrospective map here!

The Retrospective opens to the public on May 4, 2014 and is on view through September 21, 2014.


Make it a Retrospective Weekend!

Seward Johnson: The Retrospective Weekend Hotel Package

Take advantage of a Special Grounds For Sculpture Retrospective Weekend Hotel Package!

Princeton Marriott at Forrestal
100 College Road East, Princeton, NJ, 08540

Saturdays and Sundays - May 17 through September 21

  • Includes free buffet breakfast for 2
  • Free valet parking
  • 2 Tickets to Grounds For Sculpture & Seward Johnson: The Retrospective

Reservations required. Call (800) 943-6709 and use group code SJRETRO2014. For more information call (609) 897-7213. Based on availability.

Click the link below to make a reservation online. Once you're on the Marriott Deals & Promotions page, scroll down to see the Grounds For Sculpture Package at the Princeton Marriott section:

Click here for Marriott reservations

May 4, 2014
On View Until:
September 21, 2014
Grounds For Sculpture

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