The grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I, a co-founder of Johnson & Johnson, he is an artist most known for his life-size bronze statues that depict people engaging in day-to-day activities. Following an early career as a painter, Seward Johnson turned to sculpting. Since then, more than 450 of Johnson’s life-size cast bronze figures have been featured in private collections and museums in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, as well as prominent places in the public realm such as Rockefeller Center, Pacific Place, Hong Kong, Les Halles in Paris, and Via Condotti in Rome.
Johnson’s most recognized works, part of the Celebrating the Familiar, depict people engaged in everyday activities and brought a unique voice to the world of art in public spaces. Johnson also is recognized for his most dramatic oversized works, including the 70-foot aluminum giant entitled “The Awakening.” This sculpture was selected for the International Sculpture Conference & Exhibition and is currently sited along the Potomac River at National Harbor in Washington, DC. His other most influential pieces include the 26-foot-tall “Forever Marilyn,” with her skirt blowing upwards from the movie Bus Stop, and “Unconditional Surrender,” the depiction of the iconic moment in Times Square when the sailor and nurse kissed in celebration of the conclusion of World War II.
The exhibition history of Johnson’s work includes the Galleria Ca D’oro of Piazza di Spagna in Rome; the cities of Berlin and Hannover, Germany; Oxford, England; the RW Norton Art Museum; the Knoxville Museum of Art; the Jacksonville Art Museum; the island of Sardinia, Italy; The Dubuque Museum of Art; and Yale University. Corporate collectors include the Nike Corporation, Dial/Viad, the Commerz Bank, as well as numerous hospitals and universities. Pieces are held in private and municipal collections in such distant locations as Istanbul, Turkey; the Ukraine; Sydney, Australia; Monte Carlo; Brazil; and Osaka, Japan. His most recent series, Icons Revisited, asks provocative questions concerning our society’s embrace of visual icons and their impact and shift of message over time.
One of Johnson’s greatest philanthropic endeavors began in 1984, when he bought the former State Fairgrounds in Hamilton. By 1992, it had become Grounds For Sculpture, the bucolic 42-acre home for art, dedicated to ensure Johnson’s desire to make contemporary sculpture accessible and offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art in a familiar, accessible, and informal setting. Growing since its inception, the park is now exhibiting over 270 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Since 2000, Grounds For Sculpture has operated as a public not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Trustees overseeing its as a not-for-profit and public institution. Grounds For Sculpture relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations and grants to offer its programs and activities each year.