A Baltimore based artist, Barry Johnston earned a B.S in architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1969. Following his graduation, Johnston then studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design and the Enzo Cardini and Romanelli Studios in Florence. Johnston subjects draw from themes in religion, literature, and contemporary issues. He is known for capturing the figure in motion with strong movement of the hands, legs and feet, to express emotion and meaning. His love of Shakespeare led him to create King Lear.
King Lear, a life-size bronze, captures the anguish and frailty of an old man, but also the power and majesty of a king. It was the first work of his “Shakespeare Series”. As stated on Johnston’s website, “In his madness, King Lear staggers through a raging storm, his cape flying wildly in the wind, capturing the moment when, having rejected his loving daughter Cornelia, he tragically realizes the consequences of his foolish alliance with his conniving older daughters.” To Johnston, ‘Lear’, “…represents the errors of misplaced loyalties”, reflecting some experiences he faced in Washington politics during that time. In these struggles and the negative pressures he had faced, he realized that some part of him had become “deranged”.