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


Frontal 2



Michael Johnson


1938 –

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Frontal II
    Frontal Two
    Media category
    Materials used
    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
    Accession number
    © Michael Johnson/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Michael Johnson

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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
    colour-field painting.

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 8 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 16 publications

    • Christopher Allen, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'An exhuberant Johnson turns new artist at 50', pg. 84, Sydney, 11 Feb 1989, 84.

    • 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.

    • 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.

Other works by Michael Johnson

See all 23 works