Roseate Mist (Primary Title)

Norman Lewis, American, 1909 - 1979 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Overall: 36 × 42 1/2 in. (91.44 × 107.95 cm)

“It was foggy, and the sky and water catalyzed so that you could not see the point where they fell together. Fog, this ethereal filter, fascinated me. It became the dominant undertone in much of my painting then.”

                                                                                                —Norman Lewis

Throughout his career, Lewis sought to reconcile his impulse to paint abstractly with the expectation that an African American artist’s work should reflect his or her racial identity. The Abstract Expressionists, with whom Lewis associated, used color, line, gesture, and form to communicate universal experiences, transcending nationality, ethnicity, or race. On the other hand, African American intellectuals of the time advocated using art to construct and affirm African American identity. While Lewis was influenced by these ideas, too, by the mid-1940s he freed his artwork of social and political opinions, which he associated with illustration or propaganda. However, he remained socially aware and politically active in the struggle for African American equality.

Collection of Margaret and John Gottwald
Exuberance: Dialogues in African American Abstract Painting, Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA October 26 - December 10, 2021

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