368 Navajo Land

Winning Bid Undisclosed
This item SOLD at 2017 Apr 08 @ 15:23UTC-7 : PDT/MST
Category Art
Auction Currency USD
Start Price NA
Estimated at 60,000.00 - 90,000.00 USD
Navajo Land
Artist: Johnson, Frank TenneyDate of Birth: 1874-1939
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 28 x 22 inches
Signed: Signed lower left

After the death of his mother, Frank Tenney Johnson’s father moved his young family from Iowa to Milwaukee. After a class visit to the Layton Gallery of Art, Frank determined to make a life in art. Johnson studied under Richard Lorenz, a Panoramist whose enormous paintings of biblical scenes and famous battles anticipated the movies and Lorenz, who had traveled and painted in the West, fired Johnson’s imagination with his canvases and tales. Johnson eventually went to New York, finding success in the advertising industry. His skill at painting animals earned him a contract with Winchester. Those ads caught the attention of the editors of Field & Stream magazine and they offered to sponsor a trip to the West which he would repay with illustrations. Johnson’s art alone couldn’t support him in Colorado so he became a cowboy to earn a living, seeing some of the last “beef roundups” in American history from the saddle, an experience that would prove invaluable. Johnson settled in Southern California, in the heart of the nascent movie business, achieving fame by painting murals in movie theaters, selling many works to the new moguls—and by starring in more than one early silent cowboy picture. Johnson mastered the nocturne while working as a night herder, where he passed the time working out the color schemes and washes that would bring the Western night to life on canvas. Navajo Land has the hush and stillness, the crosshatched and rounded forms and dimly seen shapes that epitomize Johnson’s work. Yet, despite the darkness, the work is colorful. Shades of green do the moon’s work, illuminating open patches of sand and carving rocks from shadows. The rider seems to have paused as he and his horse pick their way through the canyon. The smallest sound would echo long into the night. Or perhaps it already has.