Melvin Johansen (1915-2015) was a sculptor of remarkable accuracy and observation. He devoted his life to the celebration of wildlife through organic sculpture. He began his career as a taxidermist with the Snow Museum of Natural History in Oakland, California. In conjunction with his work at the museum, Johansen traveled throughout the Western United States, Mexico and Canada photographing and documenting various species in their natural environments. His work allowed him to study animal anatomy and form with an academic comprehension. The photographs and sketches produced from these trips appeared in several natural history publications and films.
In 1972, Melvin Johansen retired as Senior Curator of the Natural Sciences Division of the Oakland Museum in order to focus on his artwork. The result was a body of work that represents the animal world with spirit and reverence. Johansen’s bronze figures suggest movement and presence even when the subject is depicted at rest, and the patina used on his sculptures almost give the appearance of them being made out of stone. His appreciation of wildlife, and insight of animal behavior allowed his compositions validity and grace.