Norman Wilfred Lewis
American, 1909-1979
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Selected exhibitions
2016
Norman Lewis: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings,
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
2014
Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties,
Brooklyn Museum
2009
Norman Lewis: PULSE, A Centennial Exhibition,
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

Born in Harlem and working within New York City’s downtown art scene, Norman Wilfred Lewis first began painting in a figural style grounded in social realism, focusing on bread lines, police brutality, and the struggles of black Americans. Lewis transitioned to a more abstract style of art during the 1940s and 1950s, continuing to focus on social inequalities but growing increasingly interested in personal expression rather than representation. Lewis’s shift to abstraction was driven in part by his realization that reproducing or mirroring social conditions did not adequately reflect his goals as an artist. His work Evening Rendezvous, for example, addresses political activism and humanitarian concerns through hazy visuals inspired by clandestine Ku Klux Klan gatherings.