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Norman Lewis (1909 - 1979)

Lot 85: NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979) Many Faces of Legend #1.

Swann Auction Galleries

February 6, 2007
New York, NY, US

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Description

NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979)
Many Faces of Legend #1.

Oil on canvas, 1960. 1470x965 mm; 58x38 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower left.

Provenance: Purchased directly from the artist; private New York collection.

Exhibited: Norman Lewis Black Paintings 1946-1977, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, April 1, 1998--September 20, 1998, with labels on the verso.

Illustrated: Norman Lewis Black Paintings 1946-1977, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1998, #52, pl. 24 and p. 116.

Norman Lewis used black as a powerful device in a series of abstract paintings from the late 1940s through the 1970s. Despite his friendships with Ad Reinhardt and David Smith, and his New York School associations, Lewis has been overlooked by art historians as one of the pioneer American abstract painters, and one of the first using black as a color. His use of black in the "atmospheric" paintings, especially in the early 1960s, convey a metaphorical darkness that is not a void, but an abstract subject in itself. Despite the artist''s denial of overt references, and his resistance to narrative elements, the title also suggests both cultural references and a natural order to his composition.

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