The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

John M. Anderson Endowed Lecture Series Welcomes Ken Johnson

Ken Johnson FA17 Anderson Visitor

The Penn State School of Visual Arts (SoVA) is pleased to announce a visit by Ken Johnson as part of its John M. Anderson Endowed Lecture Series. Ken Johnson is a writer, art critic, cartoonist, and painter. Interested in what art reveals about consciousness and its various possible states, Johnson is currently working on an extended essay on humor in contemporary art, which is a follow-up to his first book, Are You Experienced? How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art (Prestel Books, 2011). Johnson will give a lecture titled “Hilarious!: Humor in Contemporary Art” Wednesday, September 20, 3:00-4:00 p.m. in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art. 

Johnson grew up in Maine and graduated from Brown University in 1976 with a B.A. in art. He earned a master’s degree in painting at the State University of New York at Albany in 1977. For the next five years he worked as a technician in the painting department of an art conservation laboratory operated by the New York State Department of Historic Sites in Waterford, N.Y. In 1983, he started writing art reviews for the Albany Times Union newspaper and for other publications in the Albany region, where he lived from 1977 to 2001. In 1987 he began writing for the now-defunct Arts Magazine, and a year later he moved on to Art in America, for which he wrote reviews and articles regularly for the next nine years. In 1997 he began writing for The New York Times, and continued to do so until September 2006, when he took a job as the chief art critic for the Boston Globe. After a year in Boston, he returned to New York and to writing art criticism for the Times, continuing to do so until October 2016. In 2011, his book, Are You Experienced? How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art, was published by Prestel Books. In 2013, he began producing an online comic called “Ball and Cone” ( “Ball and Cone” was listed among “Notable Comics” in “The Best American Comics of 2016” (see He has lived in Flushing, Queens, since 2001.

For complete details about the John M. Anderson Endowed Lecture Series, and an entire listing of events, please visit: