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Estimate: $ 100,000 - $ 150,000
NORMAN LEWIS (1909 - 1979) Untitled (Procession Composition).
Oil on marbleized slate, 1960. 346x1384x10 mm; 14x54 1/2x 3/8 inches. Incised signature and date "12-14-60", lower right.
Provenance: acquired directly from the artist (1960); thence by descent to the current owner; private collection, Texas.
The owner's father was a friend of both Norman Lewis and the Willard Johnson family of Willard Gallery. He commissioned Norman Lewis to make a painting on this piece of slate. The marbleized slate was originally used as the cover for an electrical panel in the Guthrie Estate in Lattingtown Harbor, NY - hence the small pre-drilled holes at the corners and edges.
This painting is a remarkable discovery - a striking processional painting by Norman Lewis on an unusual surface. In this painting, the artist continues his investigation of the "ritual" calligraphic figures that he began as early as 1950. Both the sumptuousness of the marbelized finish and the playfulness of the figures characterize this depiction of a carnivale parade or procession. During Lewis' travels through Europe and North Africa in 1957, he experienced many such parades, bullfights, carnivals and festivals, especially in Spain. Here Lewis depicts with varying degrees of abstraction a plentitude of marching figures, some with striped caps, banners and flags, and even a few cats and dogs. This black surface may also be a precusor to his black 1960s paintings. With the rise of the Civil Rights movement, Lewis also began painting his small figures in white hooded robes - Klu Klux Klan figures - on black grounds in such paintings as America the Beautiful, 1960. Fine p. 258.