(1920 - 2019)
Frances Ynez Johnston (May 12, 1920 – 2019) was an American painter, sculptor, printmaker and educator. Her artwork is modernist and abstract with a narrative of imaginative lands or creatures, and often featuring collage.
Johnston was born on May 12, 1920, in Berkeley, California. She attended University of California, Berkeley to study with Worth Ryder and received her bachelor of fine arts in 1941. She traveled to Mexico in the early 1940s to continue her studies, returning to Berkeley in 1943, earning her Masters of Fine Arts in 1946.
In 1960 she married novelist and poet John Berry. In the years following she produced prints through the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Johnston started teaching art classes at various universities and colleges in 1950 and ended teaching in 1980. She began at University of California, Berkeley (1950–1951) and then continued her teaching career at Colorado Springs Fine Art Center (1954–1955), Chouinard Art Institute (1956), California State College (1966–1967, 1969, 1973), the University of Jerusalem (1967), and Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design (1978–1980).
Her work is featured in various permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Spencer Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, Fullerton College, the McNay Art Museum, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and others.
Johnston was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952 for fine art, which allowed her travel to Italy. In 1955–1956 she was awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant for painting and printmaking, and was awarded the National Endowment for the Art (NEA) grant in 1976 and 1986.
In addition to her intricate prints and paintings, Johnston also created three dimensional pieces in collaboration with her husband and with ceramic sculptor Adam Mekler.
Her watercolors, oils and etchings of the 1950s and 1960s were rich with complex imagery, and displayed a disciplined, restrained use of color. In later mixed-media pieces, she examined the tactile qualities of surface. Her paintings incorporated soil, acrylic, dyes, encaustic on cloth, canvas, and raw silk. Composite forms suggest ambiguous architectural, human, animal and plant shapes. Johnston cited Persian and Indian miniatures as influences but also drew inspiration from European abstract artists Matisse, Miro, Klee and Picasso.
Ynez Johnston died in 2019 in Los Angeles, California.