John Seward Johnson
Admiralty, Hong Kong Park
John Seward Johnson II (born 1930) also known as J. Seward Johnson, Jr. and Seward Johnson is an American artist known for his trompe l'oeil painted bronze statues. He is a grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson) and Colonel Thomas Melville Dill of Bermuda. He is best known for his life-size bronze statues, which actually are castings of living people of all ages depicting them engaged in day-to-day activities. A large staff of technicians perform the fabrication.
The Awakening (1980), his largest and most dramatic work, a 70-foot (21 m) five-part statue that depicts a giant trying to free himself from underground. The sculpture was located at Hains Point in Washington, D.C. for nearly twenty-eight years while still owned by Johnson. It was moved to Prince George's County, Maryland in February 2008, and an attempt was made by the new curator to correct some of the scale distortions of the original installation by altering some implied underground connections and placing the parts in different relationships to each other.
Johnson's work was labeled as "kitsch" in a 1984 article by an art professor and critic at Princeton University, who explained its rejection as he was commenting on a controversy raging about the work in New Haven, Connecticut. His 2003 show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, "Beyond the Frame: Impressionism Revisited," which presented his statues imitating famous Impressionist paintings, was a success with audiences, but was panned by professional art critics of national stature and drew strong criticism[vague] from curators at other museums about a prominent museum of fine art presenting an exhibit of his work.