Theme/Style – Figurative art, Social Realism, cityscapes
Media – Oils, graphite
Artistic Focus – The utterly unique and powerful work of Irving Norman, teeming with energy and outrage, was both ahead of its time and unclassifiable. The Crocker Art Museum stated, “Through scale and infinite detail, he makes the immensity and atrocities of war and contemporary society comprehensible.” No less impactful and skillfully rendered than his monumental canvases were Norman’s drawings. Intricate, fascinating, and strangely beautiful examples of Norman’s highly individual “Social Surrealism,” they both sow the seeds for and crystallize the force of his large scale paintings.
Career Highlights –
- Born Irving Noachowitz in Eastern Europe in 1906, Irving Norman came to the U.S. in 1923, and worked as a barber near New York City. He and his wife moved to Los Angeles in 1934, where he opened a barber shop in Laguna Beach.
- In 1938, Norman went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War as a machine gunner in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. His experiences in the war inspired him to become an artist, and upon his return to Los Angeles in 1939, he settled on Catalina Island and joined a life-drawing group.
- Norman moved to San Francisco in 1940 to study at the California School of Fine Arts, and in 1942 there was a solo exhibition of his drawings at the San Francisco Museum of Art.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.