Great American Painter Norman Wilfred Lewis Gets His Due at PAFA
The life of painter Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, the exhibition reveals the range and power of his abstraction through nearly 100 paintings and works on paper made between the early 1930s through the 1970s.
Lewis was born and raised in Harlem to Bermudan immigrant parents. Growing up there in the 1910s and ’20s, his was among a small number of black families in the neighborhood, which was also populated by Jewish, Irish, and Italian communities. By the age of nine, he had developed a keen awareness of racial inequality, as well as a desire to be an artist. His career began in the 1930s, when he used the style of
By the 1940s, feeling the limitations of social realism, Lewis transitioned to said. “However, gradually I came to realize that […] the development of one’s aesthetic abilities suffers from such emphasis; the content of truly creative work must be inherently aesthetic or the work becomes merely another form of illustration ….” While he would continue to focus on social inequalities over the course of his life and never fully abandon representation, Lewis became increasingly interested in exploring the expressive potential of abstraction, and became an important part of the downtown art scene of the
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