Norman Lewis is one of the very few African-Americans you read about when looking into the art of the era that brought us Abstract Expressionism. He was often exhibited alongside the works of the rest of the New York School. He was a master, but after being considered a major figure at the time, he was shunted to the side in the following decades, which is a shame as I find his work to be incredibly engaging. The inclusion of three of Lewis' work as a temporary exhibition is a very nice touch, especially since the three works are hung on the free-standing wall that has the Pollock work Lucifer on the other side.
The piece Untitled from 1949 is a joy. I had only once seen a Lewis painting, and it was far more like the larger canvas, also Untitled. Here, Lewis is working in rough-hewn geometry, seeming to create a series of somewhat hazy intersecting and interlocking triangles. The effect is impressive, as it brings the eye not to the pinnacle of the forms, but to the splashes of color that are present at random intervals. Those alone made me wonder what was the idea here - to create an image which celebrated the colors presented by giving them room to land thoroughly, or was it to show them being consumed by the black and grey, as if they had once ruled the canvas and now the darkness was seeping in from all side.
This work was not my favorite of the Lewis pieces, but it was the one I spent the most time with on two of my visits.
Christopher J Garcia - Curator, Fan Writer, Podcaster, and a guy who just loves art.