Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Further Introducing Untitled (Alabama) by Norman Lewis: New To The National Gallery Of Art, Washington, D.C.

Untitled (Alabama) by Norman Lewis

"Harlem-born Norman Lewis is often described as the most important African American artist in the abstract expressionist movement. His 1967 painting Untitled (Alabama) is one of the most powerful of his "black paintings" (1946–1977), which are characterized by compacted, flame-like strokes of white and black that move and twist across the canvas, suggesting the ambulatory confrontations that punctuated the civil rights movement. Although Lewis disclaimed political efficacy for his art, Untitled (Alabama), one of his greatest works, is unique in its historical ambition.

No official title is on record, but Lewis' widow reports that the artist called this work "Alabama." Its composition reflects and exaggerates the shape of that state, while also suggesting a cleaver or guillotine. The hood of a Klansman emerges from a welter of black and white strokes. The wedge-like geometric shapes within which these brushstrokes are confined reflect the geometric abstractions of the time and foreshadow the art of Richard Serra and Maya Lin, who are also concerned with the politics of human locomotion.

Untitled (Alabama) is the first painting by Lewis to enter the collection [of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.]" ...

National Gallery of Art Acquires Seminal Painting by Norman Lewis; Works by Hugonnier, Rugg, and Bochner Also Acquired April 3, 2009


Image credit: Copyright © 2008 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.


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