We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting


Quasar I



Michael Johnson


1938 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas
    182.7 x 122.5 x 2.5 cm stretcher
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated u.r. verso on stretcher, black oil "Michael Johnson 1984".

    Gift of Michael and Margo Johnson 2015. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Michael Johnson/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Michael Johnson

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The light and openness of the Australian environment had a profound impact on Michael Johnson's practice when he returned from New York in 1975. Johnson's paintings of the early to mid-1980s in particular demonstrated a freer application of oil paint in 'pure colour' and a tempering of the hard-edged forms that had characterised his imagery throughout the 1970s. The visual vitality of Johnson's 'Quasar' 1984 series was due in part to the 'tension' of their painterly fields of colour and the play of suspended horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines.

    Commenting on their origins, Johnson has said that: 'I went into this funny period where I recalled my childhood with Quasars - I don't know what the diagonals are about - but it was a funny period where, without being figurative, I was trying to get a feel of association with experience. Not place' [1]. According to curator Barry Pearce their schismatic compositions were a 'metaphor of earth, sea, sky' which also served as a template for Johnson's pictures thereafter [2].

    1. Michael Johnson quoted in Barry Pearce, Michael Johnson, Beagle Press, 2004, p 18
    2. Ibid p 100

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

Other works by Michael Johnson

See all 23 works