Sunday, July 3, 2016

E. Harper Johnson (1920s-2016)

I have written before about E. Harper Johnson, but at the time I knew only a little about him. The book-jacket biography above tells a little more than that, but more of what I know now comes from Mr. Johnson's granddaughter Kisha, who has generously provided more information on him in her comments on my original article.

H. Harper Johnson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1920s. He was a painter, muralist, cartoonist, and illustrator who lived and worked in New York, Africa, and I believe the Arabian Peninsula. His art training came at the American Academy, the National Academy, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. Johnson's illustrations and cartoons appeared in newspapers, magazines, and more than 100 books. The illustrations and book-jacket biography above are from The Story of George Washington Carver by Arna Bontemps (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1954). Like the subject and the illustrator of his book, Arna Bontemps (1902-1973) was a black southerner and a man of great accomplishment.

Harper Johnson was married to Mildred Anita Johnson and to Salma Tahira Malik (1928-1979). He died on March 24, 2016. I hope to find more on E. Harper Johnson, his life, and his work. I invite and welcome comments and email messages.

Original text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


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  2. I don't know if this will help but during my research i found out he used to write for ebony magazine and negro digest at that time and did several paintings depicting political struggles in the colonial era and hardships faced by Africans in those regions e.g shooting of crowd opposite norfolk hotel

    1. Dear Mr. Abwao,

      Thank you for the additional information. With comments like yours, eventually we will have a fuller biography of E. Harper Johnson.