Michael Johnson, Sydney Ball, Dick Watkins and Tony McGillick all showed work in 'The field' exhibition held at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1968, the first comprehensive survey of Australian
Johnson's works from the 1960s onwards are primarily concerned with colour and the manipulation of spatial planes through colour relationships. 'Frontal 2' was one of two works he exhibited in The field. He developed it out of a series of modular-shaped canvases he began in 1965 in London, where he was able to experience first-hand the works of the New York School artists.
From the Gallery Shop
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
198.5 x 214.0 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Signed and dated c. verso on stretcher cross-bar, black synthetic polymer paint "MICHAEL JOHNSON 1968".
Gift of Michael and Margot Johnson 2000
Not on display
© Michael Johnson. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Young contemporaries exhibition 1968, Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 13 Mar 1968–23 Mar 1968
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 21 Aug 1968–28 Sep 1968
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 30 Oct 1968–24 Nov 1968
Michael Johnson paintings 1968-1986, University Gallery, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 06 Aug 1986–03 Oct 1986
1988 Australian Biennale: from the Southern Cross: a view of world art c.1940-88:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 18 May 1988–03 Jul 1988
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 04 Aug 1988–18 Sep 1988
Michael Johnson paintings 1968-1988, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Feb 1989–02 Apr 1989
Australian abstraction 1965-1985: from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Dec 2006–25 Jan 2007
Australian Collection Focus: Tackling THE FIELD, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Sep 2009–29 Nov 2009
The Field Revisited, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 27 Apr 2018–26 Aug 2018
Referenced in 16 publications
Christopher Allen, The Weekend Australian, 'Hard work: A new show reminds us of the limitations of colour-field abstraction', pg. 12-13, Canberra, 17 Oct 2009-18 Oct 2009, 13. Focus room 'Tackling the field' exhibition review.
Christopher Allen, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'An exhuberant Johnson turns new artist at 50', pg. 84, Sydney, 11 Feb 1989, 84.
Michael Desmond, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Abstraction', pg.16-59, Sydney, 2006, 18, 40, 41 (colour illus.).
Paula Dredge, Look, '20th century paint: a worldwide scientific search to find ways to care for it', pg. 31-32, Sydney, May 2014, 32. Artist is photographed in front of the work.
Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'New abstraction and the challenge to regionalism', pg. 398-411, Carlton, 2013, 400, 401 (colour illus.), 551, 563. plate no. 38.1
Frances Lindsay, The 1988 Australian Biennale: from the Southern Cross: a view of world art c.1940-88, 'Antipodean antecedents: an accent on the present', pg. 13-17, Sydney, 1988, 160, 279. no catalogue numbers
Elwyn Lynn., The Weekend Australian, 'Farewell to all that jolly fun', Sydney, 28 May 1988-29 May 1988, page unknown.
Elwyn Lynn, The field, Untitled essay, pg. 84-85, Melbourne, 1968, 33 (illus.). cat.no. 30
Victoria Lynn., Michael Johnson paintings 1968-1988, 'Michael Johnson', Sydney, 1989, (colour illus.). no catalogue numbers, not paginated
Terence Maloon, Michael Johnson paintings 1968-1986, 'Michael Johnson', pg. 4-8, Parkville, Aug 1986, 9 (colour illus.), 33. cat.no. 1
Patrick McCaughey., Art and Australia, 'The significance of The Field', Sydney, Dec 1968, 241 (colour illus.), 242.
John McDonald, Art and Australia (Vol. 24, No. 3), 'Michael Johnson', pg. 346-350, Sydney, Autumn 1987, 348.
Barry Pearce, Michael Johnson, Sydney, 2004, 28, 29 (colour illus.), 138, 199. plate no. 11
Robert Rooney, The Weekend Australian, 'A hard won leap to freedom', pg. 14, Sydney, 16 Aug 1986-17 Aug 1986, 14. Review of Melbourne University Gallery survey exhibition.
Natalie Wilson, Tackling THE FIELD, 'Tackling The Field', pg. 1-29, Sydney, 2009, 8, 10, 15 (colour illus.), 16.
Editor Unknown (Editor), Nation, 'Judgement day', Sydney, 23 Nov 1968, page unknown.