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Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 90,000
NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979) Shapes.
Oil on masonite board, 1947. 368x450 mm; 14 1/2x17 3/4 inches. Incised signature and date in oil, lower right.
Provenance: Ouida Lewis, New York; Kenkeleba Gallery, New York; private collection, New York (1991).
Exhibited: The Search for Freedom: African American Abstract Painting 1945-75, Kenkeleba Gallery, New York, May 19 - July 14, 1991; Norman Lewis: Black Paintings, 1946-1977, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, April 1, 1998 - September 20, 1998, with the label on the frame back; From the Margins: Lee Krasner/Norman Lewis, 1945-1952, The Jewish Museum, New York, September 12, 2014 - February 1, 2015.
Illustrated: Corrine Jennings, The Search for Freedom: African American Abstract Painting 1945-75, Kenkeleba Gallery, pl. 5, p 60; Kinshasha Holman Conwill, Norman Lewis: Black Paintings, 1946-1977, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 1998, pl. 2, p. 64; Norman L. Kleeblatt and Stephen Brown. From the Margins: Lee Krasner/Norman Lewis, 1945-1952, the Jewish Museum, New York, p. 43.
Shapes is a striking abstraction from Norman Lewis' early exploration of form and technique in the late 1940s. Norman Lewis made a small series of these modernist paintings on masonite board between 1946 and 1947. Each shares a central abstract composition with a rich variety of surfaces, including graffito and scrapings, surrounded by a halo of monochromatic color. A similar painting with a black border, Florence, 1947 was included with Shapes in the Jewish Museum exhibition From the Margins: Lee Krasner | Norman Lewis, 1945 - 1952. Two other 1947-48 paintings on board, both untitled, have come up at Swann Galleries. One with a red background was offered on April 6, 2017, and another with a silver grey background was sold on April 7, 2016.