Seward Johnson, bringing new life to major paintings –

A few months ago my boyfriend and I had visited New Jersey’s outdoor museum Grounds for Sculpture located in the Hamilton area. I’ve already been to a decent amount of museums before, but nothing compares to the wondrous and fresh appeal of New Jersey’s Grounds for Sculpture. The museum is sculpture based, and these sculptures are placed and organized beautifully amongst a rather scenic outdoors area. Shrubbery, flora, and several other nature based aspects help to highlight the sculptures that are placed all around the museum.

I could go on and on about every detail of Grounds for Sculpture, since it contains quite a bit of artwork and the natural set up is just so engaging. However, to condense this post I thought I’d focus on one of my favorite artists and some of his sculptures that were displayed within the exhibit.

Seward Johnson is by far one of my favorite artists, and it was thanks to visiting Grounds for Sculpture that I was able to introduce myself to some of his many works. What makes Seward Johnson so unique is that he has taken famous paintings and sculpted them into 3-dimensional, actual and realistic pieces.

“God Bless America” by Seward Johnson

Seward Johnson's rendition of American Gothic

Seward Johnson’s rendition of American Gothic

I’m sure many of you know of the painting American Gothic. Well, for those that may not know of the painting or just need their memory jogged- American Gothic was originally painted by Grant Wood. The painting depicts a farmer husband and his wife, with the husband holding a pitchfork and the wife standing right next to him. The couple wears rather Gothic based clothing through dark red and gray undertones. The backdrop of the painting is a farm house, set behind the couple. Both the husband and wife are set with rather monotone, somber faces. American Gothic by Grant Wood is already on its own a captivating, and extremely dense piece.

Now, through the sculpting talents of Seward Johnson, he has taken American Gothic and made it larger than life! As I was walking through the museum I immediately noticed the gigantic sculpture of the farmer husband and his wife – as well as the farmhouse background. All of this was shaped and molded. Being that it is a sculpture, it stands as a 3-dimensional piece of art, with every detail holding such realistic aspects.

Just look at it! Wondering how big it is? I can’t give you the exact size – but if you want to know how little you would be next to the painting, take a look at the suitcase next to the couple. You are even shorter than that suitcase. Yes, the farmer, the wife, and the house behind them quadruple in size next to you and probably your own house – towering over you, possible just as tall as some New York City buildings. Magnificent.

Seward Johnson’s interpretation of Henri Matisse’s “Dance”

Seward John's interpretation of Henri Matisse's "Dance"

Seward Johnson’s interpretation of Henri Matisse’s “Dance”

Henri Matisse had painted an amazing piece of artwork known as “Dance,” which depicts a young boy laying under a circle of dancing women – all holding hands and surrounding him as he lays in both relaxation and possibly awe.

Just like his interpretation of American Gothic, Seward Johnson takes the original painting of “Dance” and sculpts it into a giant, larger than life size creation. What makes both the American Gothic sculpture and the “Dance” sculpture so amazing is that not only are they larger sculpted versions of the original paintings, Seward Johnson takes it as far making sure even the backdrop of the sculptures match the backdrops within the painting. Just like the farmer and his wife having the house in the background in American Gothic; Dance also achieves the same background, with a nice bare outdoor area! Lovely.

Seward Johnson takes paintings and makes them bigger than ever before! If you ever want to take a look at these sculptures, be sure to make your way down to Grounds for Sculpture.

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