Malvin Gray Johnson (1896-1934)
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Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Malvin Gray Johnson was an African American painter. Once Johnson moved to New York, he studied art at the National Academy of Design. Johnson was one of the Harlem Renaissance youngest artists. Having been influenced by French Impressionism and Cubism, he was one of the first African Americans who painted in the Cubist style. His work was called "Symbolic Abstractionist." Johnson worked on the Federal Arts Project during the Depression. His work was displayed in many of the Harmon Exhibits in 1929 and the early thirties and in 1931 his work was hung in the Anderson gallery and the following year, the Salon of America. In 1928 he won a prize at a Harmon exhibition, and in 1929 he won the Otto H. Kahn prize for painting. "Johnson's painting 'Swing low sweet chariot' was won the 1929 exhibition prize for best picture. That painting was sold in 2010 at Swann Galleries for over $200,000. Toward the end of his life, Johnson created a series of watercolors of urban and rural blacks as his last and finest work.