Skip to main content

Norman Lewis papers, 1919-1971

Lewis, Norman, 1909-1979

Painter, Educator


Collection Information

Size: 5 Microfilm reels, 770 items on 5 microfilm reels

Summary: This microfilm collection of the papers of African American painter Norman Lewis consits of correspondence, a scrapbook, sketches, photographs, personal documents, and printed material including exhibition catalogs, exhibition announcements, and clippings.
REELS 52-53: Eight sketchbooks, 1935-1957; several pages from the diary of Lewis' wife, Joan, ca. 1948, commenting on their marriage; and an undated postcard from Ad Reinhardt.
REELS 91-92: Correspondence with author Millen Brand and artist Jim Yeargans; unidentified authors and actors; and museums, many arranging exhibits by Black artists and political action organizations. Also includes a scrapbook of catalogs, clippings, photographs, letters, and announcements, 1934-1968, concerning African American art exhibits, the training of African American artists, particularly during the Depression, WPA-New York projects, and Lewis' World War II work as a shipyard employee and poster artist.
REEL N69-47: Personal documents, correspondence, catalogs, announcements, photographs, articles, and clippings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Norman Lewis (1909-1979) was an African American painter in New York, New York. He began his career painting mostly figurative work, but is now associated with abstract expressionism as his work became more abstract in the late 1940s. Lewis was a founding member of Spiral, one of the groups of artists and writers who protested the controversial Harlem on My Mind exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1968.


Lent for microfilming 1969-1971 by Norman Lewis.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Originals returned to Norman Lewis after microfilming.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels 52-53, 91-92 & N69-47 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.

How to Cite This Collection

Norman Lewis papers, 1919-1971. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.