Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis

September 17, 2016—January 8, 2017

Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor North

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Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis(click on image to enlarge)


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.


Public Programs

Exhibition Preview

Friday, September 16, 5–9pm

Panel discussion with exhibition curator Ruth Fine and artists Dawoud Bey, Torkwase Dyson and Amanda Williams.

Claudia Cassidy Theater, 6-7:30pm


Gallery Talks with curator, Daniel Schulman

Wednesday, October 19 and November 16, 12:15pm


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