Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis

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Ritual, 1962. Oil On Canvas 51 X 63 ¾ Inches. Courtesy Of Tom Burrell, Chicago © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York NY
Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis
Curated by: Ruth Fine

78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
September 17th, 2016 - January 8th, 2017

Michigan Ave/Downtown
Mon-Thu 9-7; Fri-Sat 9-6; Sun 10-6


The first comprehensive overview of the art of Norman Lewis presents this pivotal figure in American art, a participant in the Harlem art community, an innovator of Abstract Expressionism and a politically-conscious activist. Covering the 1930s to 1970s, the 60 paintings and works on paper revolve chronologically and thematically around six motifs: In the City, Visual Sound, Rhythm of Nature, Ritual, Civil Rights and Summation.

"Procession" references the prominent appearance of ritual in Lewis’ work. It is a theme that could be both celebratory and terrifying, equally carrying allusions to carnivale and Ku Klux Klan marches. Such duality was at the heart of his artistic practice, which employed representation and abstraction; geometric and organic forms; somber calligraphic markings and brilliant fields of color.

Racism prevented Lewis from fully participating in the social and networking aspects of gallery life, and his deserving work remains, even today, less well known than contemporaries such as Willem de Kooning and Ad Reinhardt.

Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis is organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Major Exhibition Sponsors are the National Endowment for the Arts, Christie’s and the Terra Foundation for American Art on behalf of board members Ruth Fine, Mimi Gardner Gates, Chester A. Gougis, Charles Harper, Michael Leja, Peter Lunder, Gloria Scoby and Greg Williamson. Additional support from AG Foundation, Ed Bradley Family Foundation, Valentino D. Carlotti, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Frank and Katherine Martucci, Raymond J. McGuire and Crystal McCrary, and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joe Neubauer.