This work by Norman Lewis has a densely filled central composition. The muted tones of pink, blue and turquoise are contained within a geometric structure of gestural, calligraphic black marks.

Norman Wilfred Lewis

American, 1909–1979

Untitled, 1947

Oil on masonite

17 x 14 inches

Signed and dated lower right

 

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During Lewis’ breakthrough years of the late 1940s, he experimented in dense, geometric abstractions that conveyed emotion and expression. Untitled is among at least three small abstract paintings on board that Lewis completed in 1947 that exemplify this significant period. Painted on masonite, Untitled has a densely filled central composition. The muted tones of pink, blue and turquoise are contained within a geometric structure of gestural, calligraphic black marks. Surrounding the dynamic abstraction is a halo of monochromatic grey tones. Two other examples that share characteristics in style and scale are Florence and Shapes.

Untitled was painted simultaneous to the mature periods of Lewis’ more renowned contemporaries. In 1947, Pollock began his monumental drip paintings for which he is primarily known. While Pollock’s reputation lies in his large scale works, he also worked on a smaller scale, as in Number 18, 1950, which bears similarity to Lewis’ concentrated and controlled compositions that emphasize line and gesture. Untitled also relates to de Kooning’s Attic, 1949 and other works from his abstract phase of the late 1940s. De Kooning’s organization of space, dense use of calligraphic line, and limited palette recall Lewis’ own compositions.

This work by Norman Lewis has a densely filled central composition. The muted tones of pink, blue and turquoise are contained within a geometric structure of gestural, calligraphic black marks.