Name at birth: David Johnson Leisk
Crockett Johnson was the pen name of David Johnson Leisk, a New York artist whose most famous work was the children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955). He began his career as a magazine editor and cartoonist contributor in New York, in the 1920s. During the Great Depression, Johnson's politics leaned hard left, and from 1936 to 1940, he was an editor for the communist publication New Masses. After 1940, he contributed to New York magazines such as Collier's, and for about ten years he had a syndicated comic strip, Barnaby. It wasn't famous at the time, but it has since been deemed a classic, an artful satire on the politics of the era -- the series in its entirety was reprinted during the 1980s. His most famous work, however, was as the author of the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon and its six sequels. Around the same time, he collaborated with his wife, Ruth Krauss, an author who collaborated many times with Maurice Sendak. Together, Johnson and Krauss published several children's books, including The Carrot Seed and The Happy Egg. By the end of the 1960s, Crockett had turned his attention to painting visual representations of geometrical theorems; he left behind more than 100 abstract works, most of them based on actual mathematical formulae.
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