18. Sports Figures

Attributed to Sargent Claude Johnson, 1887-1967
Men, Women 9' 8" x 10'; 6' x 12' cast concrete
Tennis Player 4' x 7' x 12' cast concrete
East façade, gymnasia


The fluid and streamlined figures of the three bas-relief sculptures epitomize the Art Deco style of the late 1930s.  Over the doorway of the South Men’s Gym three stylized male figures hold a discus, shot and football, creating a balanced but dynamic design. Over the entrance of the North Women’s Gym three female figures surround a medicine ball. The third sculpture, a single female figure with a tennis racket, is above another doorway to the right of the North Gym. These bas-reliefs are to be moved elsewhere on campus in 2007.

Sargent Johnson was born in Boston and moved to San Francisco in 1915 where he became the most well-known African-American professional artist of his day. He studied at the California School of Fine Arts (now SFAI) with Ralph Stackpole and Beniamino Bufano. He exhibited at SFMA (SFMOMA) and the Oakland Museum, and worked on other public art projects with Timothy Pflueger. For the GGIE, Johnson created two sculptures of Incas seated on llamas, and he assisted Volz on the Science Hall mosaic during Art in Action. Johnson’s sculptures are in the collections of SFMOMA, the Oakland Museum, and the San Francisco African-American Historical and Cultural Society.