Saturday, 27 October 2012

MOLOCH! a tribute to Irving Norman (1906-1989)

When FBI chief J. E. Hoover ordered the surveillance of all "subversive activities", one victim of continual harassment by his goons was artist Irving Norman.

For two decades spanning from the early fifties he was visited and interrogated openly because of thin Communist party links, and due to the propaganda threat of his work his career stifled, excited curators and museum directors driven off.

moloch, cloudpine451, irving norman
M.F.I. Complex 1988 ©Irving Norman

You only have to take a look to see why he was "considered unfriendly" on the last FBI visit in 1974, after years of blacklisting and censorship. Take this image of the military industrial complex where there is no subtlety whatsoever! All the hypocracy is on display in the most visceral and well structured way.

He is still a relatively obscure part of the American art canon, not belonging to any of the strong movements of his time. So quietly he worked away at his visions in his beautiful mineral colours.

moloch, cloudpine451, irving norman
Blind Momentum 1960 ©Irving Norman
He made many predictions of the future of the 'rat race', and some amazing technical achievements. Look how the perspective is stretched for the underground train.

Given our present day world recession, one image struck me as prescient.

moloch, cloudpine451, irving norman
©Irving Norman

He pulls it off with so much humour! The financial centre as cathedral of the world, and a giant casino party to boot!

It's that ability he had of presenting a diagnostic vision of humanity with all our follies and weaknesses, yet still arriving at something I consider very beautiful. Having little support he infused his angry paintings with a little of what he loved, the traditions of Bosch and Breugel.

I wanted to try a similar image of a building with the windows facing in the same perspective, but showcasing present day institutions and crimes.

My own very small tribute to you Irving Norman, with all your broken neon, but only a sniff of your vision.

moloch, cloudpine451, irving norman
MOLOCH! 2012 ©Chris cavill



I'll explain with closeups in the next post...

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