Seward Johnson: The Retrospective

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Introduction to the Exhibition

Seward Johnson: The Retrospective is the largest and most significant exhibition ever held at Grounds For Sculpture, the 42-acre sculpture park Johnson founded in 1984 and opened to the public in 1992. The exhibition includes all of his iconic and important works created during an intense, ambitious, and exploratory period spanning nearly five decades, and continues with gusto into the present day.

Of the more than 285 works on view, 113 sculptures representing his Celebrating the Familiar series have been installed throughout the sculpture park and inside of the 8,000-square-foot East Gallery.

Perhaps Johnson’s most popular series, Beyond the Frame, celebrating the French Impressionists from Monet to Renoir, as well as other important artists, is on view in the Museum Building galleries and in several special permanent installations throughout the park.

Johnson’s focus on popular culture and history known as the Icons Revisited series is featured in the Domestic Arts Building Galleries and in four monumental outdoor park installations, including Forever Marilyn, the 25-foot-high sculpture of the iconic American movie star. Studies for many of these sculptural pursuits are included in the presentation of original clay and plastilene maquettes on display in the Museum loft and Domestic Arts Building galleries.

Photographs of his many public installations are displayed alongside the maquettes in the Domestic Arts Building Mezzanine gallery. Perhaps one of Johnson’s most intimate and private bodies of work is on view in the new feature gallery within the Domestic Arts Building. Here you will see more than 90 of his most personal and introspective series of works, the painted trays.

The seven-acre meadow features three new site-specific installations of Johnson’s monumental works, including Daydream, Crossing Paths, and The Awakening. A specially constructed 100-foot diameter pond reflects Daydream and the sky above.

The exhibition presents special documentary videos about Johnson and his artworks. The videos were created with archival and new footage and are on view in the major exhibition venues including the Welcome Center, the Museum, the Domestic Arts Building, and the East Gallery. Each video examines specific aspects of a different series on view, in addition to the exploration of Johnson’s artistic process.