Irving Norman, born Irving Noachowitz in Poland in 1906, immigrated to the United States in 1923 where he changed his last name to Norman and pursued a career in painting. Norman's paintings are infinitely complex and reveal an artist who drew upon many historical schools of painting to portray a very particular understanding of the modern world and of the relationship between people and their contemporary society.
Norman's choice of subject matter in his paintings was heavily influenced by his experience in 1938 fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Like many young idealists of his generation, he fought alongside other volunteers against General Franco. He witnessed many atrocities and barely survived the war. Upon his return to the United States, he depicted in his paintings the pain and suffering he had witnessed. The FBI took an interest in Norman's communist sympathies and watched him closely for more than twenty years, an experience which adds to the tension and underlying horror of his paintings.