Norman Lewis  (American, 1909-1979) 

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Norman Lewis (American, born July 23, 1909–died August 27, 1979) is a painter of Afro-Caribbean descent, known for his expressionistic paintings influenced by music as well as the aesthetic legacy of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, he developed an interest in art from a young age, and was encouraged to pursue an artistic career by his art teacher, Augusta Savage (American, 1900–1962), who provided him with an open studio space at the Harlem Art Center. During the 1930s, Lewis was employed by the Works Progress Administration, working with fellow WPA artists, such as Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956), who would later become the leaders of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. In 1934, Lewis joined the Harlem 306 Group, consisting of prominent African American artists and scholars, including Savage, Ralph Ellison (American, 1913–1994), Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), and Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917–2000). His work became increasingly abstract throughout the 1940s, his recognizable forms eventually reduced to free-flowing designs evocative of jazz music. Although he remained well under the radar of most critics during the height of Abstract Expressionism, he continued to teach, and in 1963 founded the SPIRAL group with like-minded African American artists who sought to use their art to contribute to the Civil Rights Movement. Towards the end of his life, he finally achieved recognition from the art world, earning grants from the Mark Rothko Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in the 1970s. He died unexpectedly in 1979 in New York.

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Artworks for sale (9)
In Art Galleries (9)
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Norman Lewis, Musicians

 

Norman Lewis
Musicians
1943

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Norman Lewis, Promenade

 

Norman Lewis
Promenade
1950

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Norman Lewis, Just Firmament

 

Norman Lewis
Just Firmament
1951

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Norman Lewis, Jazz

 

Norman Lewis
Jazz
1945

ACA Galleries, est. 1932
Norman Lewis, Promenade

 

Norman Lewis
Promenade
1950

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Norman Lewis, Untitled Abstraction

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled Abstraction
1960

Aaron Payne Fine Art
Norman Lewis, Untitled

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled
1960

RoGallery.com
Norman Lewis, Untitled

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled
circa 1954

June Kelly Gallery
Norman Lewis, Reflected Moon

 

Norman Lewis
Reflected Moon
1954

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Past auction results (137)  View All
Norman Lewis, Untitled (Man Reading)

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled (Man Reading), 1940
pen and ink on paper

 

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Norman Lewis, Untitled (Abstract Composition)

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled (Abstract Composition), 1947
oil on wood panel

 

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Norman Lewis, Untitled (Procession Composition)

 

Norman Lewis
Untitled (Procession Composition), 1954
oil and ink on paper

 

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1909   Born: in New York, NY
1933   Began painting at Augusta Savage’s Uptown Art Laboratory, New York, NY
1934   Became a member of the famed 306 Group, an organization of artists and writers that met at the studio of Charles Alston
1933 - 1935   Studied at Columbia University and at The John Reed Club Art School, New York, NY
Accepted into the Federal Art Program of the Works Progress Administration, (WPA)
1935   Founding member of the Harlem Artists Guild
1935 - 1937   Taught at P.S.139 and the Harlem community Art Center in New York, NY
1952   Received honorable mention in the 10th Annual American Drawing, Virginia Museum, Norfolk, VA
1963   Founding member of Spiral, a group of African-American Artsts that included Charles Alston, Romare Bearden and Hale Woodruff
1969   Founded the Cinque Gallery in New York, NY along with Bearden and Ernest Crichlow
1972   Awarded Mark Rothko Foundation grant and an Individual Artists’ Fellowship for the National Endowment for the Arts
1975   Awarded a fellowship from the John Solomon Guggenheim Memorial
1972 - 1979   Taught at The Art Students League, New York, NY
1979   Died: in New York, NY
2009   Norman Lewis: PULSE, A Centennial Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Hidden Gems: Works on Paper, June Kelly Gallery, New York, NY
2008   Norman Lewis, Twilight Sounds, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (solo)
2004   Norman Lewis: Master Paintings from 1944-1975, Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2002   Norman Lewis: Linear Abstractions, Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2002   Visions of America: A Black Perspective, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
1999   Intuitive Markings: Works on Paper, 1945-1975, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Norman Lewis, G.R. N'Namdi, Chicago, IL (solo)
1998   Black New York Artists of the 20th Century: Selections from the Schomburg Center Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
Norman Lewis: Black Paintings 1946-1977, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; NY; The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH (solo)
1960s: Paintings & Works on Papers, June Kelly Gallery, New York, NY
1997   Norman Lewis: Social Realism to Abstraction 1933-48, Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Norman Lewis, Ben Shahn Galleries, William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ (solo)
1994   The Second Transition: 1947-1951 Abstractions, A.F.T.U. Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1993   Norman Lewis Returns, Paintings from the Harlem Renaissance, Cotton Exchange Gallery, Augusta, GA (solo)
Norman Lewis, Berman/Daferner Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1989   Norman Lewis: From the Harlem Renaissance to Abstraction, Kenkeleba, Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1976   Norman Lewis, A Retrospective, Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, NY (solo)
1971   Black Artists: Two Generations, The Newark Museum, Newark, NY
1964   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1961   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1958   Nature in Abstraction, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
1957   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1954   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1952   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1951   Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1949   Willard Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1940   Art of the American Negro, Tanner Galleries, Chicago, IL
  Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
  Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
  Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO
  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
  Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA
  California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK
  Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
  The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
  Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
1998    Black New York Artists of the 20th Century: Selections from the Schomburg Center Collection. New York, NY: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1998 (catalogue)