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Multitudes

Abstract painting with light character etchings on a multicolored background of red, black, and white painted in loose patches that blend together.
© Estate of Norman Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

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  • Abstract painting with light character etchings on a multicolored background of red, black, and white painted in loose patches that blend together.

Date:

1946

Artist:

Norman Lewis
American, 1909–1979

About this artwork

In Multitudes, Norman Lewis rapidly layered calligraphy over a ground of pulsating color. The dense array of lines subtly evokes figures in a crowd, revealing his interest in incorporating nonrepresentational forms evocative of the energy of American cities. The only black member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Lewis took a unique approach among his peers by addressing social concerns through his art. The title of this work alludes to lines from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” (first published 1855), which perhaps was intended by Lewis as an acknowledgment of the complications his artistic practice presented at this moment: “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.).”

Status

On View, Gallery 262

Department

Arts of the Americas

Artist

Norman Lewis

Title

Multitudes

Place

New York City (Object made in)

Date

1946

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Signed and dated, lower right: Norman Lewis / 10-6-1946; inscribed and dated on verso: Multitudes / 40 x 24 / 1946- / No. 1857

Dimensions

99.7 × 67.3 cm (39 1/4 × 26 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment Fund; Director's Discretionary Acquisition Fund; Eloise W. Martin Legacy Endowment Fund

Reference Number

2020.194

Copyright

© Estate of Norman Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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