Feb 16, 2012 - Sale 2268

Sale 2268 - Lot 106

Price Realized: $ 108,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 50,000
NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979)

Oil on canvas, 1950. 864x1524 mm; 34x60 inches. Signed in oil, lower right recto. Titled and dated in oil, left stretcher bar recto.

Provenance: acquired directly from the artist; thence by descent to the current owner, private collection, New York..

This fine Abstract Expressionist oil by Norman Lewis demonstrates his sophisticated use of color, an overlooked attribute of his oeuvre. While his black paintings are among his most widely celebrated today, Lewis's use of color distinguished his work at the time. According to a review by The Art Digest of his second solo exhibition at the Willard Gallery in 1950, "Lewis' palette is at once brilliant and calculatingly subtle. His evasive rhythms provoke and stimulate." Eschewing harsh contrasts and a loaded brush, Lewis developed his own voice in the early 1950s with lyrical paintings like Birds, painted thinly on gauze-like linen. This is a painterly precursor in subject to his important Migrating Birds, 1954, which won the prestigious Carnegie Institute prize for painting that year and was acquired by the museum. In Birds, Lewis continues his use of the abstract patterns found in urban life--washing lines, tenement windows and flying pigeons. In 1950, he also participated in the Artists' Sessions at Studio 35, the meeting of the New York School artists to define the relevant issues for Abstract Expressionism. He was the only African-American artist to participate.