Dark Metropolis: Irving Norman's Social Realism presents visions of urban hell by a West Coast artist (1906-1989) who used his art to enact social reforms. Born Isaac Noachowitz in Vilnius, Lithuania, Norman drew on his experience fighting fascism in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War to create highly detailed, monumental works that critique the inhumanity of war, the inequity of capitalism and the tyranny of the elite. Produced on the occasion of what would have been Irving Norman's 100th birthday, the exhibit features paintings that remain as poignant and relevant today as when they were first created. Meticulously patterned and vividly medieval, Norman's colossal paintings depict Big Brother worlds of swarming, clone-like figures encountering claustrophobic streets, jam-packed rush hours, random violence and abject poverty—urban panoramas that call to mind Los Angeles or Tokyo gone haywire. The show is curated by Scott Shields and is on tour from the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California.
(Top left) Irving Norman From Work, 1978
Courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
(Top right) Irving Norman Golden Calf 2, 1985
Courtesy collection of Martin Sosin