Before Abstract Expressionism defined and dominated mainstream art for the latter half of the 20th Century, a truly native movement, American Expressionism, arose in direct response to the potent social and political issues of the day. In the growing conservative atmosphere following WW2, American Expressionism became politically inconvenient and challenging and never again found the support it deserved.
Irving Norman's art evolved out of American Expressionism and though he understood and admired what his contemporaries were accomplishing, Irving followed the song of a different muse. He said at one time: " The path I followed chose me, not me it, I was led to painting by experiencing life, it's contemplation and a desperate need to give it expression. I find spiritual strength in the artists of the remotest past to the immediate present."
For fifty years Irving Norman worked tirelessly in relative obscurity creating paintings of monumental size both physically and in their complexity of content. He examined the world in terms of our hyper-kinetic society calling it, "The Human Predicament." Widely read and keenly observant, little escaped Irvin's scrutiny: from the ever-widening economic division between those who have and those who have not, the tragedy of war and illusion of peace, to the physical and psychological effects of our fast-paced, technologically dependent society has on all of us. For decades his efforts remained known to only a handful of curators and supporters who admired his vision and technical virtuosity. Thanks to these curators and the success of his wife's efforts to keep his work and beliefs alive, he has achieved a certain amount of success...on his terms.
"I am not powerfully concerned about...popularity. I just hope that my work has relevance to some people, has some effect on them, to humanize them, to make them more humane." It is now almost twenty-five years since his passing and the bold statements in Irving's work continue to resonate, especially in this uncertain second decade of the 21st. century. It is time for Irving's creative legacy to touch a new generation.
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