Norman Lewis, American Totem, 1960, oil on canvas, 74 × 45".

Norman Lewis

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum

Norman Lewis, American Totem, 1960, oil on canvas, 74 × 45".

“Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis” is the first comprehensive museum retrospective of the work of the noted African American modernist. Curated by Ruth Fine, the exhibition, organized according to six chronological themes, brings together ninety-five paintings and works on paper spanning five decades. Lewis’s earliest works demonstrate an observational social realism that focused on the denizens and street life of Harlem, where the artist lived and worked for most of his life. Experiments with Cubist fragmentation and Surrealist automatism led him to gradually decouple line from color, using both in a less disciplined and descriptive and more lyrical and expressive manner. By the mid-1940s, Lewis’s subjects had begun to disintegrate into flat compositions of restless lines, incidental shapes, and unruly colors, driven by the impulsive improvisations of jazz. In Roller Coaster

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