Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis

Exhibition Info
Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building
Curators
Ruth Fine in coordination with PAFA Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art Robert Cozzolino
The first comprehensive museum overview of Norman Lewis: a pivotal figure in American art, a participant in the Harlem art community, an innovator of Abstract Expressionism, and a politically-conscious activist

Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis was featured on CBS News Sunday Morning!

“This show, with nearly 100 works, should go a long way to repositioning Lewis in the canon of American postwar innovators.” The Guardian

“A welcome opportunity to assess the rich and varied path of Lewis’s art.” The New York Times

"Whatever their subject matter, his paintings reveal there is no color barrier to transcendence." The Wall Street Journal

Read about Norman Lewis in "Black Artists and the March into the Museum," a recent front-page article in The New York Times.

Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis (1909-1979), is the first comprehensive museum overview of this influential artist, who explored multiple styles and whose extraordinary work spanned several decades of the 20th century. Norman Lewis was a pivotal figure in American art, a participant in the Harlem art community, an innovative contributor to Abstract Expressionism, and a politically-conscious activist. Bringing together works from major international public and private collections, the exhibition is organized with the full support of Lewis’ family. 

It includes approximately 90 paintings and works on paper dating from the early 1930s through the late 1970s, as well as archival materials from the artist’s estate. The exhibition highlights the diverse visual apparatus Lewis explored in parallel groups of works over the course of his career.

The “procession” in the exhibition’s title evokes Lewis’ intriguing painterly process and highlights a prominent thread that runs through his oeuvre: the procession ritual. Processions were both celebratory and terrifying for Lewis, equally carrying allusions to Carnevale and Ku Klux Klan marches. Such duality was at the heart of his artistic practice, which consistently employed modes of representation and abstraction; geometric and organic form; and emotional content ranging from joy to rage.

Procession considers the complexity of Lewis’ art in its entirety: It examines the role of figuration within Abstract Expressionism, considers how Lewis integrated social issues with abstraction, and highlights the surprising and expressive palette the artist championed throughout his career.

For more, see Stone and Metal: Lithographs and Etchings by Norman Lewisthe companion exhibition to Procession. 

See photos from the Preview Reception for Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis.


Beyond PAFA

After the PAFA presentation, Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis will travel to additional venues:

Amon Carter Museum of American Art
June 4 - August 21, 2016

Chicago Cultural Center
September 17, 2016 - January 8, 2017

For more on PAFA's exhibitions on tour, click here.

Title unknown (March on Washington), 1965, oil on fiberboard, 351/4 × 471/2 in., L. Ann and Jonathan P. Binstock, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Title unknown (March on Washington), 1965, oil on fiberboard, 351/4 × 471/2 in., L. Ann and Jonathan P. Binstock, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Seven people standing in the gallery
Eight people at the gallery opening night
black and white picture of a man standing in front of a painting
Two people standing looking at the paintings
American Totem, 1960, oil on canvas, 74 × 45 in., Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
American Totem, 1960, oil on canvas, 74 × 45 in., Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Redneck Birth, 1961, oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 72 in., Joseph E. Temple Fund, 2010.21
Redneck Birth, 1961, oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 72 in., Joseph E. Temple Fund, 2010.21
One person in a hat looking at an exhibit under glass
View of the gallery exhibit
Girl With Yellow Hat, 1936, Oil on burlap, 361/2 × 26 in., Courtesy of Leslie Lewis and Christina Lewis Halpern from the Reginald F. Lewis Family Collection, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Girl With Yellow Hat, 1936, Oil on burlap, 361/2 × 26 in., Courtesy of Leslie Lewis and Christina Lewis Halpern from the Reginald F. Lewis Family Collection, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Two people standing looking at the exhibit
Title unknown (Street Scene), 1947, oil on board, 20 × 30 in., Collection of Raymond J. McGuire, New York, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Title unknown (Street Scene), 1947, oil on board, 20 × 30 in., Collection of Raymond J. McGuire, New York, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
One person standing in front of three paintings on a wall
Two people standing in front of one painting on the wall
3 paintings in the exhibit
Rollercoaster, 1946, gouache, pen and ink on board, 12 × 16 in., Private Collection; Courtesy of Bill Hodges Gallery, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Rollercoaster, 1946, gouache, pen and ink on board, 12 × 16 in., Private Collection; Courtesy of Bill Hodges Gallery, © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY
Two people standing, one of whom is pointing at a piece of art on the wall

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