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Johnson is well known for incorporating a wide range of everyday objects and materials into his work, often reflecting back to his childhood and referencing aspects of his African American heritage; the cultural identity mixed with symbolism he calls appropriated history.
Jean-Michel possessed a great intellectual curiosity and was truly fascinated by abstract expressionism. He was strongly attracted to the early works of Jackson Pollock, the figure paintings of De Kooning and Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly's large-format works, based on freely drawn strokes, calligraphy and graffiti on solid fields.