Alan Johnston

1945 · United Kingdom

Artist biography

Alan Johnston is an established contemporary visual artist, who was born and brought up in the United Kingdom. Alan Johnston was born in 1945. Some of the artist's contemporaries that are born around the same year and in the same country include Maggi Hambling, Richard Cook and Phyllida Barlow.

Galleries

Alan Johnston is represented and exhibited by multiple galleries around the world, in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Galleries include Bartha Contemporary in London, Slewe Galerie in Amsterdam, as well as Fresh Window in New York.

Historical Context of United Kingdom

Through colonisation and the consequent ascent of its Empire, the United Kingdom reached the status of a giant, although the wealth and economic power did not shelter it from the apparent cultural supremacy of other continents and countries. With the United States on one side and its European neighbours on the other, Britain had been to a rather significant extent outshined by their respective influence on the art of the modern period. But it is towards the end of the nineteenth century that it truly became an essential and vital agent in the development of the avant-garde, through major and progressive trends such at the Arts and Crafts Movement, which would become essential to the further development of bohemian artists movements or other artist-led guilds of the twentieth century.

Vorticism is a significant movement, fundamentally distinctive of British modernism, it involved artists known for their affiliation to the Bloomsbury group. A few critically remarkable British artists of the modern and contemporary period include Stanley Spencer, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Paula Rego among others – as well as the YBA generation led by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and Chris Ofili, in more recent years.

Further Biographical Context for Alan Johnston

Born in 1945, Alan Johnston's creative work was largely inspired by the 1960s. In the art world, a multitude of significant changes were also taking place. Pop Art, embodying the culture of mass media through the artworks of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, was gradually breaking down the bases on which the creation and reception of art were built. Drawing from the imagery of popular culture and mass consumerism, the Pop Artists refuted the authority of highbrow art and created a cutting-edge movement, while Minimalism, simultaneously appearing, was rejecting any form of emotional manifestation and focused on art’s theoretical aspect – aiming for pure visual responses.

Historically established in the context of the Cold War, the 1960s symbolize an extremely powerful era which generated a significant number of disruptions and questioned the order of all things. In Europe, The Iron Curtain and the Berlin wall would permanently mark people and beliefs, while in the U.S, predicaments such as the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam war would forever influence generations to come. From education to gender issues and ideologies, a re-definition of social standards in Western society ensued, with ground-breaking values and movements evolving in a cradle of inventiveness.

Honesty and an void of emotions were key concepts in the highly influential movement of Minimalism, embodied by artists such as Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Agnes Martin. Bored of the gestural elements of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalist artists focused on delivering artworks mainly composed of polished, pure lines and geometrical elements.

The very first blossoming of Conceptualism was highly influenced by the simplicity of Minimalism but went further in denying all pre-defined conceptions inherent to art, similarly to what Pop Artists were trying to achieve by elevating popular culture to the status of high art.

Digging further into some of the concepts inherent to Abstract Expressionism, artists such as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler practiced Colour Field Painting – strongly relating to Minimalism, with an essentially ruled-based approach, emptied of any emotional features.

Several schools of philosophy profoundly influenced creatives, Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti were artists fundamentally persuaded by the ideas of Existentialism, who achieved worldwide success through their depiction of the human form and the lament often linked to the human condition. Internationally, a significant number of art movements echoed with the radical changes of the 1960s, often prone to their own regional distinctions. In Italy, Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni created Spatialism, while in Germany, the Zero group adopted similar ideas under the leadership of Günther Uecker.

Alan Johnston

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