McMichael - Canadian Art | Collection d'art Canadien

Frank H. Johnston (1888-1949)

Frank Johnston was born in Toronto, Ontario. Like many other Group members, he joined Grip Ltd. as a commercial artist.

Although an original member of the Group, Johnston's association was brief. He participated in the 1920 exhibition, but by 1921 had left Toronto to become principal at the Winnipeg School of Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Pursuing His Own Course

From an exhibitions perspective, Johnston had long wanted to go his own way – which was in keeping with his energetic, ambitious and strong-willed character.

In Winnipeg, he spearheaded the largest show the city had ever seen.

Johnston's career in the post-Group years also led to work with department store art galleries.

In 1927, he changed his name from Frank to "Franz."

From Interpretation to Realism

Over the years, a clear shift in the style of Johnston's art is evident. His earlier works express a strong decorative interpretation of the landscape. His later pieces evoke much greater realism, revealing his strong fascination with the qualities of light.

Johnston died in 1949. He is buried in the small cemetery on the McMichael gallery grounds.

Frank Johnston (1888–1949)

Sunset in the Bush, c.1918
oil on canvas
102.2 x 78.9 cm
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Gift of the Paul Rodrik Estate
1987.6.2
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