I found the photo of the beautiful art above while searching for photos posted under a creative commons license. The license allows people to use images for personal, educational, and non-commercial use.

I clicked on the photo because I love folk art and it resembles some of the pieces I have in my home. I collect folk art because it is made by untrained artists, is beautiful and can be quite affordable.

This piece is not considered folk art because the artist was trained in New York City in the 1920s. It is a self-portrait of the black artist and his Danish wife, and it is owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The hand-colored woodcut on paper is titled Willie and Holcha and was created in 1935 by William H. Johnson of Florence, South Carolina.

Here’s the history on the piece: “Johnson married the Danish artist Holcha Krake in 1930 in Kerteminde, Denmark. She was sixteen years his senior and as committed to her weaving as William was to his art. This image shows how similar their features and skin colors were, and it is only Holcha’s blonde hair that indicates they were a biracial couple.”

I learned something today. What a beautiful find. Here is an online exhibit of Johnson’s work. Enjoy!

3 thoughts to “A Beautiful Find

  • b.

    Marvelous! Thanks for sharing this. I also like the one called “Jitterbug”. In the slide with the soldier leaving home, I could almost hear them saying “‘Bye!!!” The last slide was sad…I wonder what happened to Holcha?

    • Percola

      a quick search showed his wife died of breast cancer in 1943. he had been exhibiting odd behavior before her death. heartbroken, he gradually descended into some kind of mental illness. truly sad.

      it also appears he was biracial — the son of a black woman and a prominent white man.

  • Quiskaeya

    I love that. Totally cool. I collect vintage black victorian (cabinet) photos. The other day I saw on another blog a vintage photo of a white man and black woman. The woman looked quite young, perhaps in her mid-late teens. What a find.

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