Irving Norman Film


Truth be Told:

Irving Norman and the Human Predicament



The 60 minute documentary film examines the life and work of San Francisco Bay Area, Social Surreal Artist, Irving Norman, (1906 - 1989). 

Irving Norman examined the world in terms of our hyperkinetic society. Little escaped his scrutiny: the ever-widening economic division between those who have and those who have not, the tragedy of war and the illusion of peace, and the physical and psychological effects of our fast-paced, technologically dependent society on all of us. Through his observations, or as he put it, his diagnosis, certain concepts, or truths emerged and were "fair game" for graphite, watercolor or oil where Irving created canvases of immense size and intricate detail.

Though he may not have realized it at the time, his vision evolved out of American Expressionism and though he understood and admired what his contemporaries were accomplishing in the variety of artistic trends of the day, Irving followed the song of a different muse. He sought a synthesis of the socially relevant themes of the Mexican muralists, Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco with the freedom of style of Pablo Picasso; a unique blend of the concrete, the abstract and always with a distinct social critique.

It is “Irving-as-artist” the first two-thirds of the film. His latent talent as an artist blossomed along with his self-confidence. The final third examines “Irving-as-human being,” and his relationship with his wife Hela. She understood the importance of his work and set aside her own aspirations to provide an income while Irving focused entirely on his art.

For fifty years his was an ongoing struggle to find legitimacy and yet remain true to his intense vision and firm belief that through the contemplation of his work people could be changed for the better.


The film is finished as of August, 2018.

I thank everyone enough who helped me complete the project's post-production:

Maikel Garcia Despaigne for his highly imaginative music score.

Warren Haack for his help with audio effects and cleaning up of my audio tracks.

Dan Olmsted who worked his magic and completed the final audio mix for the film.



I can't pretend in my art. If I could I would be an actor not a painter. We are faced with so

much that is unknown, so many unanswered questions. So we hope for the best and create

illusions. Religion is but one example. It's human nature to look for answers, to

investigate, but in developing answers, we create illusions. I try to go beyond illusions tell the truth.                                                                                          Irving Norman