Jun 24, 2010 - Sale 2219

Sale 2219 - Lot 13

Price Realized: $ 48,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 75,000
NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979)

Oil on canvas, 1946. 755x300 mm; 29 5/8x11 7/8 inches. Signed and dated "3-11-46" in oil, lower right.

Provenance: estate of the artist, New York; Bill Hodges Gallery, New York; private collection.

Illustrated: Graham Lock and David Murray, ed.The Hearing Eye: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Visual Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 106, fig. 4.3.

Bassist is one of the earliest abstracted jazz musicians that Norman Lewis painted between 1945 and 1946, and the first to come to auction. Lewis painted these wonderful jazz images just before he was invited to exhibit at the Marian Willard Gallery for the first time in the fall of 1946. Similar to Street Musicians and Cosmopolitan in the collection of George and Joyce Wein, New York, Bassist shows the artist's exploration of a Cubist-type of figuration, with lines and a flat application of tonal color.

These paintings are very scarce due to the brief period of this transitional period in Lewis's career. By the fall of 1946, Lewis had begun a new series of urban abstraction, as found in Metropolitan Crowd in the Delaware Art Museum, and Twilight Sounds, 1947, in the St. Louis Museum of Art. Both the painting and drawing Jazz Musicians of 1948 are the last works we have found with an explicit jazz theme--later works became almost completely abstract.