Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Untitled 32726


Norman Lewis (Harlem, New York, 7/23/1909 - 8/27/1979)



Creation Date



mid-20th century


26 x 19 in. (66 x 48 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

oil on paper

Credit Line

Gift of halley k harrisburg, Class of 1990, and Michael Rosenfeld


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Accession Number

As a central figure among the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Norman Lewis was celebrated for his dynamic calligraphic and atmospheric abstractions. One of the few African American artists of his generation working in abstraction, he was inspired by such varied sources as music, nature, and the civil rights movement. Like his colleagues of the New York School, the forms he explored were derived from an organic abstraction rooted in Cubism and Surrealism. At the same time, this atmospheric work can be contextualized in an entirely different cultural tradition, that of Chinese landscape painting. Lewis was passionate about Chinese and Japanese art—he read voraciously about it, as his personal library attests—and here one might see echoes of a hanging scroll painting of a mountainous landscape, in which bright peaks and shaded valleys recede into the distance.

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