Sargent Claude Johnson Biography

Sargent Claude Johnson




Sargent Claude Johnson (1887-1967), sculptor, ceramist, printmaker and teacher, was born on October 7, 1887, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the third of six children born to Anderson Johnson of Swedish ancestry and Lizzie Johnson of African American and Cherokee ancestry. After the second of his parents died in 1902, Sargent was sent to live with his maternal grandparents before being placed in an orphanage in Worcester, Massachusetts.

His early studies were at the Worcester Art School in his home state. In 1915, Johnson traveled to San Francisco to attend the Panama Pacific International Exposition and decided to remain in California. He enrolled at the Arthur W. Best Art School and continued his studies at the California School of Fine Arts where he was a pupil of Ralph Stackpole and Beniamino Bufano. During the 1930s, Johnson served as a supervisor for the Federal Art Project.  He created a number of lithographs under the FAP but one of his most important works during this time were the mosaic murals on a promenade deck of the Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park in San Francisco.  Johnson lived for a time in Berkeley and taught at Mills College until 1948.

Johnson exhibited at the San Francisco Art Association Annuals, Harmon Foundation of New York, San Francisco Museum of Art, Albany Institute of History and Art, and the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and New York World's Fair. Although he created in various media, his subjects centered upon the American Negro. Johnson received numerous awards for his work and is represented in the Baltimore Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, University of Kentucky Art Museum, Newark Museum, Oakland Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, San Diego Museum, de Young Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Johnson died in San Francisco on October 10, 1967.