In 1960, following the completion of his studies in Sydney at the Julian Ashton Art School and the National Art School, Michael Johnson departed for London, where he spent the following seven years. During this time he painted full time, working periodically as a studio assistant to the British sculptors Brian Wall and Anthony Caro. In 1967, he returned to Sydney, where he held his first two solo exhibitions, thus marking the beginning of a long and outstanding career.

Michael Johnson’s work is marked by a metaphysical orchestration of colour and a muscularity of presence. His paintings (and occasional works in three dimensions) are romantic in essence; in their application, they are raw and intuitive, deeply connected to his intense and complex relationships with nature, natural process and mood. This is most tangibly so in his works of the past decade, where ruptured, sinewed application of base, primary colour performs an opera of gestures and painterly manoeuvres.

Michael Johnson has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, and was included in the seminal exhibitions, ‘The Field’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1968); the UNESCO Biennale, France (1968); the São Paulo Bienal, Brazil (1969); and The Australian Biennale, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1988).

Among Johnson’s awards and commissions are works for the Sydney Conference Centre and the State Bank of New South Wales, Sydney. He is represented in all major Australian state and regional collections, New Zealand’s Chartwell Collection, and in numerous significant corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas. Beagle Press published a substantial monograph on Michael Johnson’s work in 2004.

1938  Born Sydney, Australia  
1953–59 Studied at Julian Ashton Art School, Sydney
Diploma of Art, National Art School, Sydney  
1960–67 Lived in London 
1962–63 Brian Wall (Steel Sculpture), Studio Assistant 
1963–64 Michael Kidner (built and constructed three-dimensional painting), Studio Assistant 
1963–64  Michael Kidner (built and constructed three-dimensional painting), Studio Assistant 
1964–65 Anthony Caro (rebuilt and painted ‘Madam Pompadour' aluminium), worked with Ron
Robertson Swann and repainted all steel works of Caro (1960–65), Studio Assistant 
1969–75 Lived and worked in the United States 
1963–85 Lecturer: St Martins School of Art, London; Croydon School of Art, London; 
Birmingham School of Art, United Kingdom; East Sydney Technical College, Sydney;
Alexander Mackie College, Sydney; Sydney College of Arts, Sydney; James Cook University,
Townsville; Newcastle College of Advanced Education, NSW; Goulburn College of Advanced
Education, NSW; Brisbane Arts Council, QLD; University of New South Wales, Sydney; City
Art Institute, Sydney; Crown Lane School of Art, Sydney; Silpakorn University Nakhon, Pathom, Thailand 
1980–81  Collaborated with Robert Klippel (convexed/concaved colour on constructivist steel-type
sculpture spray painted) 
Currently  Lives and works in Sydney  
Solo exhibitions
2007  Sherman Galleries, Sydney  
2003 Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane  
2002 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
2001 Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
1999 Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
1998 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
1997 Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
1996 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
1995 Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
1994 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
1993 Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
1992 Studio exhibition, Jarocin Ave, Forest Lodge, NSW 
1991 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
1989 Michael Johnson, Survey 1968–1988, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; travelled to Moree, Wollongong, NSW Forum, Invitational Art Fair, Hamburg, West Germany 
1988 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 
1986 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 
University Gallery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 
Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 
1985 Studio exhibition, Pitt Street, Haymarket, Sydney 
Gallery 52, Perth 
1983-84 Studio exhibition, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney 
1982 Studio exhibition, Greene Street New York, 237 Lafayette, New York 
Pinacotheca Gallery, Melbourne 
1981 Gallery A, Sydney 
1980 Gallery A, Sydney 
1979 Gallery A, Sydney 
1977 Gallery A, Sydney 
Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York 
1976 Gallery A, Sydney 
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane 
Abraxor Gallery, Canberra 
1975 Studio exhibition, James Cook University, QLD 
1974 Gallery A, Sydney 
Studio exhibition, Bowery, New York 
1973 Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York
1972 Gallery A, Sydney 
1970 Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York
1969 Gallery A, Melbourne 
1968  Central Street Gallery, Sydney 
Gallery A, Sydney 
1967 Central Street Gallery, Sydney 
Gallery A, Sydney 

Selected group exhibitions
2004 Abstracting the Collection, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne  
2002 20 Years of Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 
2001 Minimal, Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth 
Five Painters, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney 
A Century of Collecting 1901–2001, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University
of New South Wales, Sydney 
1999 The Rose Crossing Contemporary Art in Australia, Sherman Galleries touring exhibition, Brisbane City Gallery, Brisbane; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth; S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney; Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, NSW 
1996-98 Flagging the Republic, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney and touring to regional galleries
1997 Anon, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney
1996 La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris 
Greg Weight, Artists' Portraits, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney 
1995 NICAF, Nagoya, Japan Smorgon Collection of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Asia & Oceania Influence, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney 
1994 On Paper, Solander Gallery, Canberra 
1993 On Paper, Sherman Galleries Goodhope, Sydney Australian Tapestries, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 
1990 Central Street, Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne; Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney 
1989 Painters' Visions, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney Joye Art Foundation, Baudoin Lebon Gallery, Paris 
1988 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney Australian Biennale, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 
1987 Field to Figuration 1960–86, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Art/LA 87, Los Angeles Art Fair, USA
1986 A Resistant Spirit, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; Realities Gallery, Melbourne 
1985 Subject of Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Lecturers of East Sydney Technical College Art School, Cell Block, Darlinghurst, Sydney 
1984 The Field Now, Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne Recent Australian Painting, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
1983 Survey Australian Painting, Commonwealth Bank, Sydney Recent Australian Painting: A Survey 1973–83, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Aspects of the Landscape, Gallery 52, Perth Twelve Australian Painters, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth The Wrong Place: Five Sydney Painters, Tasmanian School of Art Gallery, University of Tasmania, Hobart 
1982 ANZAAS 82 (Eleven Sydney Artists), Macquarie University Library, Sydney Colour Painting, Jacques Spiess Gallery, Paris The Seventies: Australian Paintings and Tapestries From The National Australia Bank Collection, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 
1981 Survey of the Seventies, Bendigo Art Gallery, VIC 
1980 Opening Show, Axiom Gallery, Melbourne 
1979 Cambodia, Central Street Gallery, Sydney 
1978 Contemporary Australian Art to Indonesia, Landscape and Image, A.D.G.C.
1977 Australian Colourists, Western Australian Institute of Technology, Perth 
1975 Ten Australians, Gallery A, Sydney 
1974 Young New York Artists, travelling exhibition, USA 
1972 Australian Paintings and Tapestries of The Past 20 Years, NSW House, London 
1970 Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York Colour and Structure, Blaxland Gallery, Sydney
1969 São Paulo Bienal, Brazil. Gallery A, Sydney. Gallery A, Melbourne 
1968 Renting Collection Exhibition, Pinacotheca Gallery, Melbourne Painters and Sculptors of the Gallery, Central Street Gallery, Sydney 
21st Show, Central Street Gallery, Sydney Georges' Invitation Art Prize Exhibition, Georges Gallery, Melbourne Pinacotheca, Melbourne. UNESCO Biennale, Museum Grimaldi, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France. The Field, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1967 Central Street Gallery, Sydney. New Generation Sydney, Gallery A, Sydney 
1963-64 Young Commonwealth Artists, RBA Galleries, London. New Vision Centre, London. Qantas Gallery, Sydney. Australian Painting and Sculpture in Europe Today, Arts Centre Folkstone, London; Stadtliches Kunstinstitut Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. John Moore's Gallery, Liverpool, UK
1962-63 Molton Gallery, London 
1962  Young Contemporaries, RBA Galleries, London. Commonwealth Festival/Biennale, Commonwealth Institute, London 


Awards and commissions
1989 Sydney Conference Centre, NSW 
1986 Visual Arts Board (Artist-in-Residence), The University of Melbourne, Melbourne 
1984 Mural, State Bank of New South Wales, NSW 
1983 Tapestry, Waverley Council Civic Centre, Victoria 
1981 Visual Arts Board (New York Studio), New York 
1980 Camden Art Society (Works on Paper), NSW
1976 Gold Coast Art Prize (Painting), QLD
1975 Visual Arts Board (Artist-in-Residence grant), Sydney. James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 
1974 Visual Arts Board (Grant), Sydney 
1967 R. H. Taft's Prize, Contemporary Art Society Annual Exhibition, Sydney

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Parliament House, Canberra
Ballarat Art Gallery, VIC
Burnie Art Gallery, TAS
Gold Coast City Art Gallery Collection, QLD
Newcastle Region Art Gallery, NSW
New England Regional Art Museum, NSW
Wollongong Art Gallery, NSW
Australian National University, Canberra
James Cook University, Townsville, QLD
Monash University, Clayton, VIC
The University of Melbourne Art Collection, Melbourne
State Library of Western Australia, Perth
Camden Council Art Collection, NSW
Townsville Council Art Collection, QLD
Waverley Council Art Collection, VIC
Joye Foundation, NSW
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, NSW
Commercial Union Insurance, VIC
Daryl Jackson, VIC
Holmes à Court Collection, Perth
Hyatt Adelaide, SA
Hyatt on Collins, Melbourne
Medibank, Sydney
National Bank of Australasia, Melbourne
Park Grand Hotel, NSW
Philip Cox and Partners, NSW
Sly and Weigall, NSW
State Bank Australia
Telstra, Sydney
Westfield, NSW
Westpac, NSW
Westpac Collection, Sydney
Yulara Tourist Resort, Northern Territory
Chartwell Collection, Waikato Museum of Art & History, Hamilton, NZ
Chase Manhattan, New York
Croydon Education Committee, London

Selected bibliography
Patrick McCaughey, 'The significance of the Field', Art & Australia, December 1968
Kym Bonython (ed.), Modern Australian Painting 1960–1970, Rigby, Adelaide, 1970
Elwyn Lynn, 'Australian abstractions in the New York melting-pot', The Bulletin, 5 December 1970
Lawrence Campbell, Art News, vol. 69, no. 8, 21 December 1970, p. 8
W. Domingo, Arts Magazine, vol. 45, December 1970, p. 58
Carter Ratcliff, ‘New York Letter’, Art International, summer 1973, pp. 60–62,
Lenore Goldberg, ‘Clear vision’, Arts Magazine, September–October 1973
Peter Frank, ‘He's matured, put on weight in New York’, The Age, 9 February 1972
Peter Frank, Art News, summer, May 1973, p. 92
Mervyn Horton (ed.), Australian Painters of the 70s, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1975
Tony McGillick, ‘A viable future for painting’, Nation Review, 30 June – 6 July 1977, p. 22
Ron Radford, Recent Australian Painting: A Survey 1970–1983, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1983
Paul McGillick, The Subject of Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1985
Michael Johnson Paintings 1968–1986, University Gallery, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 1986
Terence Maloon, ‘Thick skin is shed, a butterfly is exposed’, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 March 1986
Gary Catalano, ’Abstracts filled with an emotional substance’, The Age, 20 August 1986
Tony Bond, Surface for Reflection Part s I & II, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1987
Robert Lindsay, Field to Figuration: Australian Art 1960–1986, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1987
Minimal Art in Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 1988
Victoria Lynn, Michael Johnson Paintings 1968–1988, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1989
Christopher Allen, ‘An exuberant Johnson turns new artist at 50’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 February 1989
Paul McGillick, 'The abstract in perspective', Australian Financial Review, 17 February 1989
Catharine Lumby, ‘Abstraction’, West, vol. 3, no. 2, 1992
Elwyn Lynn, ‘Capturing the new shape of abstraction’, The Weekend Australian,
20–21 February, 1993
Felicity Fenner, 'Orchestrating virtuosity', Sydney Morning Herald, 20 March 1993
Joanna Mendelssohn, 'Bunch of tens', The Bulletin, December 1993
Felicity Fenner, 'Metaphoric waiting room', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 1994
Nevill Drury, Images 2: Contemporary Australian Painting, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1994
John McDonald, 'The origins of the artistic species', Sydney Morning Herald, 16 September 1995
Paul McGillick, 'From luminous fields of pure colour to seething surfaces', Monument, no. 10, 1995
Joanna Mendelssohn, '1968 Primavera', The Australian, 15 September 1995
Carolynne Skinner & Alexandra Morphett, 'Gastronomy as Art', Oz Art, no. 12, September–December 1995
TECCA 2, Joan and Peter Clemenger Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 1996, pp. 18–19
Susan McCulloch, 'Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art', Asian Art News, May–June 1996
Angela Bennie, 'Another way of seeing', Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 1997
John McDonald, 'Dreaming in colour', Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 1997
Sebastian Smee, ‘Colour splendid’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July 1999
Bruce James, ‘Order from chaos’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 1999
Eccles, Jeremy, ‘Reflections of the melting pot’, Asia Week, ‘Arts & Sciences Olympic Games’,
21 January 2000, pp. 42–43
‘Contemporary Art in Australia Exhibition’, Elle (Hong Kong), no. 146, December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Esquire (Hong Kong), no. 133,
December 1999
‘13 hybridisation stories’, Hong Kong Economic Journal, 3 December 1999
‘The hybrid rose’, Sing Tao Daily News, 26 November 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Ming Pao Weekly, 27 November 1999
‘13 Australian Artists’ Association Art Exhibition’, Ta Kung Pao, 3 December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Youth’s Bi-Weekly, 4 December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, W, no. 6, December 1999
‘Symbols full of artificial expression’, Ming Pao Daily News, 9 December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing’, Ming Pao Daily News, 5 December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Sing Tao Daily News, 7 December 1999
‘Hybrid culture = Australian culture?’, Ming Pao Daily News, 9 December 1999
‘The Rose Crossing’, Hong Kong Economic Journal, 15 December 1999
‘The fantasies of immigrant art’, Chinese Newspaper, 26 November 1999
‘Cultural event: The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Ming Pao Daily News,
28 November 1999
‘The Rose Crossing exhibition and Dale Barlow Quartet concert’, Ming Pao Daily News,
28 November 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Hong Kong Economic Journal,
24 November 1999
‘The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, Sing Tao Daily News, 29 November 1999
‘Hybridisation: The Rose Crossing: Contemporary Art in Australia’, East Touch,
30 November 1999
Paul McGillick, ‘Canvassing opinions’, Panorama, July 2001
’50 of Australia’s most collectable artists’, Australian Art Collector, no. 27, January–March, 2004
Barry Pearce, Michael Johnson, Beagle Press, Sydney, 2004
Angela Bennie, ‘Eruptions from the volcano’, Metropolitan, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 2004, p. 12
Laura Murray Cree (ed.), Twenty: Sherman Galleries 1986–2006, Craftsman House (Thames & Hudson Australia), Melbourne, 2006
Carmel Dwyer, ‘Relaxed and confident’, Australian Art Collector, no. 38, October–December 2006, pp. 189–193
Anthony Huckstep, 'A decorative degustation', Australian Art Review, November 2006 – February 2007, pp. 82–86
Paul McGillick, Australian Art Collector, no. 39, January–March 2007
Karen Pakula, ‘I still have 500 paintings to do’, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, 24–25 March 2007, pp. 18–19
John McDonald, ‘The meaning of colour’, Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March – 1 April 2007, pp. 16–17