Skip to main content

Coming to visit? Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage your visit so please book ahead. Need to cancel or rejig? Email bookings@npg.gov.au

Menu

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Michael Johnson, McMahon's Point, Sydney

1969 (printed 2000)
David Moore

type C photograph on paper (28.2 cm x 43.1 cm)

Michael Johnson (b. 1938) is a Sydney painter. He studied at the National Art School in the 1950s before moving to London and the United States. He has taught at a number of art schools and had a great many solo and group shows in Australia and overseas. In 1980-81 he collaborated with Robert Klippel on a spraypainted steel sculpture project. He has explained that his paintings will not tolerate the idea of a picture; they 'just won't let it in', because they are 'preoccupied with the spectacular process of their own formation'.

Michael Johnson has explained his experience of painting in this way:

Putting down a colour, the first thing you do is oppose it with another colour or give it some kind of sympathy . . . The choice of colour is an emotional decision which is hard to account for, but it's related to a physical phenomenon, to a canvas or a piece of paper

. . . You start with the experience of the bare gesso, the primed canvas, and that is sublime. That is meditation itself . . . If you're playing a musical instrument, because it's so close to the body, it's not like painting, where you've got to go to the box to pick up some paint. In a way I try to reduce all that by mixing colour on the surface . . . I don't see any difference between the spirit of music and the spirit of painting. Not so much painting, but colours . . . I'm interested in colour divorced of its physical body.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
The series 'David Moore: From Face to Face' was acquired as a gift of the artist and with financial assistance from Timothy Fairfax AC and L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2001
© Lisa, Michael, Matthew and Joshua Moore
http://davidmoorephotography.com.au/

Artist and subject

David Moore (age 42 in 1969)

Michael Johnson (age 31 in 1969)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Supported by

Tim Fairfax AC (53 portraits supported)

The Gordon Darling Foundation (36 portraits supported)

Related information

Little faces

10:30am, Wed 26 May – Fri 25 Jun

Little faces is for babies and toddlers (with their grown up) to play, sing and have fun discovering a portrait together.

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Painting mates

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2011

Michael Desmond discusses Fred Williams' portraits of friends, artist Clifton Pugh, David Aspden and writer Stephen Murray-Smith, and the stylistic connections between his portraits and landscapes.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency