Born in New York City on February 20th, 1912, Buffie Johnson studied at the Art Students League of New York and at the Academy Julian and S. W. Hayter Atelier in Paris, where she also studied privately with Francis Picabia. She earned a B.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. From 1946-1950, she was an instructor at the Parsons School of Design. Johnson is known for huge paintings, "single image frontal plant forms" of orchids, irises and tulips, seed pods and fruits, intended to symbolize the "Lady of the Plants."
In New York in the 1940s, and in the 1950s in East Hampton and New York, Buffie Johnson exhibited with Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Robert Motherwell, among others. In the 1950s, she took frequent trips to Europe, where she lectured for the U.S. State Department, exhibited in Paris, and collected images for a proposed book on the Great Goddess and Her Sacred Animals. She also exhibited at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, and in 1959 completed the world's largest abstract mural for the Astor Theatre in New York City.
In 1968 Johnson began painting her monumental plant images, moving completely away from her abstract expressionist style to that of realism. Representing the sexual as well as the sacred, her plants and flowers become metaphors for life and fertility.
Buffie Johnson moved from East Hampton, Long Island, back to New York City in 1966, where she resided until her death on August 11th, 2006.
Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century, New York
"Exhibition by 31 Women", Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
New York Cultural Center, New York
"Women choose Women", Whitney Museum of American Art/Biennial/Numerous others
Chuck Levitan Gallery, New York
"Buffie Johnson: The Spirit of Plants" (Parts I/ II), The Institute for Contemporary Art, P.S. 1 Museum, Long Island City
Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY
The National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The Israel Museum. Jerusalem
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA
Baltimore Museum, MD
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
Tangier Museum, Tangier
Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art
Walker Art Center, MN
The Newark Museum, NJ
Guild Hall of East Hampton, NY
The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY
Fine Arts Museum of Cincinnati, OH
New Orleans Museum of Art, LA
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
Yale University Art Gallery, CT
Rhode Island School of Design Museum, RI
New York University Art Collection, Grey Art Gallery, NY
Huntington Art Gallery at University of Texas at Austin, TX
University of Michigan Museum, MI
University of New Mexico Art Museum, NM
Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University, NY
The Neuberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York at Purchase, NY
University of Illinois, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Urbana, IL
Fine Arts Museum of the Women's Interart Center at Caldwell College, Caldwell, NJ