Thomas Berger Johnson Block Prints

In 1969, after viewing what he called a “merited retrospective” of Johnson’s work at the Koenig Art Gallery at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska, art critic Leonard Thiessen of the Omaha World-Herald wrote:

Johnson was in several ways a precursor: his life work reveals a variety of well-integrated sources. Born in…[Omaha], he studied with Birger Sandzen at Lindsborg, Kansas.

His painting shows the impressionistic, heavy impasto handling favored by the anti-establishment “Konstnaersforbundent” group in Stockholm, with which Sandzen was allied before emigrating to the U.S.

Long before forged metal sculpture became commonplace, Thomas B. Johnson was creating lovingly crafted iron sculptures sinuously reminiscent of Art Nouveau and prophetic of the “psychedelic” pastiches recently revived.

Before black became beautiful, Johnson was deeply moved by the aesthetic contribution of Black Americans, and pursued his black studies in a series of drawings, “Negro Spirituals.”

Dead Man's Run, block print, 1963

Dead Man’s Run, block print, 1963

At Snowy Range Pass, block print, 1964

At Snowy Range Pass, block print, 1964

Ridge Point, block print, 1963

Ridge Point, block print, 1963

Stone House-Kansas, block print, undated

Stone House-Kansas, block print, undated

Noxon Dwelling, block print, 1963

Noxon Dwelling, block print, 1963

Meyer Cabin, block print, 1960

Meyer Cabin, block print, 1960

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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