Skip to content

Johnson, Una E.

    Full Name: Johnson, Una E.

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1905

    Date Died: 1997

    Place Born: Dayton, IA, USA

    Place Died: New York, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): American (North American), prints (visual works), and twentieth century (dates CE)

    Career(s): curators


    Scholar of 20th-century American prints and Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Brooklyn Museum from 1941 until 1969. Johnson received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in art history and literature in 1928. She began work at the Cleveland Museum of Art, earning an M.A. degree from Western Reserve University in Cleveland (today Case Western Reserve) in 1937. The previous year she moved to Brooklyn, NY, to an assistant curator of prints at the Brooklyn Museum under Carl O. Schniewind. In 1941 she succeeded Schniewind as curator. In 1943 she organized the first annual National print exhibition, an event which would lead the Museum into international prominence. The following year Johnson published a monograph on the print dealer Ambrose Vollard, Ambroise Vollard, éditeur, 1867-1939. The book remained a significant scholarly examination of the most important print dealer of the 20th-century. It was reissued as part of a large exhibition of the dealer and publisher’s work in 1977 Johnson continued to build European works on paper, expanding the collection to include work of twentieth-century American artists. She was an early curator to support American printmaking. She retired from the Museum in 1969. Johnson was named curator emeritus in 1973. In 1980 she wrote the first survey of American prints, American Prints and Printmakers: a Chronicle of Over 400 Artists and their Prints from 1900 to the Present.

    Selected Bibliography

    Ambroise Vollard, éditeur, 1867-1939, an Appreciation and Catalogue. New York: Wittenborn, 1944, republished as Ambroise Vollard, éditeur: Prints, Books, Bronzes. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1977; 20th Century Drawings. New York: Bonanza Books, 1964; American Prints and Printmakers: a Chronicle of Over 400 Artists and their Prints from 1900 to the Present. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980; Isabel Bishop: Prints and Drawings, 1925-1964. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, 1964; “Part I: 1939-1970.” of, Karl Schrag: a Catalogue Raisonné of the Graphic Works. Syracuse, NY,:School of Art, Syracuse University, 1971; and Rothko, Mark. Milton Avery: Prints and Drawings, 1930-1964. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum of Art/Shorewood Publishers, 1966.


    “The Beginnings of the Print Council of America.” Zigrosser, Carl. A World of Art and Museums. Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press, 1975, p. 294ff; “Brooklyn Museum Department of Prints and Drawings.”; [obituary:] Smith, Roberta. “Una E. Johnson, 91, An Expert on Prints Who Led a Museum.” New York Times May 5, 1997, p. B11.


    "Johnson, Una E.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: