THE ENEMY OF AVERAGE

Tuesday Art ATTACK- Norman Lewis "Meeting Place"

Christian Franzen

Posted on June 23 2015



Norman Lewis was born July 23, 1909 in Harlem, New York. At a young age Lewis took interest in painting and had obtained an extensive collection of art history books by the time he was a teenager. Prominent sculptor Augusta Savage had an impact on Lewis's young art career as a mentor. Savage let him use open studio space where she taught at Harlem Art Center. In addition Savage helped guide the young Lewis, who had not had received any form of artistic education following grade school. In the late 1920's and early 1930's Lewis worked for the government WPA program with many other artists of the time to create large public murals. Lewis's career as an artist really began in 1933 when he received recognition for his figurative works such as Meeting Place. He continued to paint figuratively through the 1930's depicting scenes from his life in New York from jazz music and human interaction to Police brutality.
 
After World War II Lewis's work became increasingly abstract. His work departed from figuration into abstraction due to the racial discrimination Lewis experienced during the war and his overall disillusionment with America.  Lewis felt as though art was at a point where a painting didn't possess the power to change anything; so Lewis felt that the artist should focus his energy solely towards aesthetic skill. His painting Migrating Birds won the Popular Prize at the Carnegie Museum in the 1955 Carnegie International Exhibit. The New York Herald- Tribute called the painting "one of the most significant of all events of the 1955 art year". Despite his numerous gallery contracts and countless awards Lewis's work did not sell as well as many of the other Abstract Expressionists of the time so he relied on teaching to support himself and his family. He won many awards throughout his career but perhaps the greatest was in 1975 when he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He died rather unexpectedly in August of 1979 in Harlem, New York. 

"Hence We Come"
Art Attack By Christian Franzen

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