A current show at the Jewish Museum in New York focuses on the transforming New York art scene from 1962 to 1964.
That three year period was a significant time in the history and culture of New York, as well as the rest of the world. Performance Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art were taking hold. The first American orbited the earth, the polio vaccine was developed.
In 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy in May and was found dead in August.
In 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated. The Soviet Union sent the first woman into space. The U.S. introduced Zip Codes.The Beatles topped the charts. Studebaker ended production.
In 1964, the war in Viet Nam escalated, the Boston Strangler was captured. The Civil Rights Act was signed. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton…for the first time.
Many of the artists who worked during those years are represented in the Jewish Museum’s show and are some of the fine artists whose works are available at Surovek Gallery.
Norman Lewis 1909-1979
Harlem was a Jewish-Italian neighborhood when Norman Lewis was born there 1909. He knew that he wanted to be an artist as early as age 9. Despite his parents urging him to pursue a career that would give him greater financial security, Lewis became a self-taught artist who began his career painting figurative works, hoping they would have an impact on the struggle of Black Americans. “One of the discouraging things in my own self-education,” he said, “was the fact that painting pictures didn’t bring about any [social] change.” So, in the 1940s, Lewis began to express himself in a new way, and became an important member of the Abstract Expressionism movement in New York.
Lewis taught art, played poker, drove a cab and did what he had to do to earn a living. Although his works are in the permanent collection of major museums, it is only in the past few years that Norman Lewis has finally gained the recognition he deserves.
In 2015, the Jewish Museum presented Lewis’ works along with those of Lee Krasner, two fine artists who were often overlooked in their lifetime.
Jasper Johns 1930 –
In 1954 Jasper Johns broke away from Abstract Expressionism and presented his first Flag painting, which is in the permanent collection of MoMA.
Combining abstraction and representation, his works broke through the boundaries of all styles and trends, and opened the door to American Modernism.
In 1962, Johns created Periscope, an homage to poet Hart Crane, whose poetry resonated with Johns. 1962 was a sad time in Johns’ life, after his breakup with Robert Rauschenberg.
Hart Crane committed suicide, at age 32, during a return trip from the tropics, by diving off a ship into the Gulf of Mexico. Just before he disappeared below the sea, he reached his hand above the waves.
Over the years, Johns repeated the image of the outstretched hand in many of his works.
A lithograph of Periscope, done in 1979, is available at Surovek Gallery.
Andy Warhol 1928-1987
Andy Warhol was one of the most successful commercial artists in America, even before he became the Pop artist who became as famous as his paintings and prints.
New York: 1962 – 1964 opened at the Jewish Museum on July 22, 2022 and will be on display until January 8, 2023.
Sebastian See. All-star show at National Gallery of Art doubles down on identity. The Washington Post. July 28, 2022.
Evan Malachosky. The Overlooked Art of Norman Lewis as Explained by Train M. Fuller, Director of His Estate. Cool Hunting Magazine. June 28, 2019.