April 22, 1918
San Gabriel, California, U.S.
|Died||September 24, 2009 (aged 91)
Monterey, California, U.S.
|Known for||Sculpture, mosaic, panel, jewelry|
|Notable work(s)||Mosaic window/stone sculptures
Nob Hill Masonic Center
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Emile Norman was born in 1918 in San Gabriel, California, located in Los Angeles County. Raised on a walnut farm in the San Gabriel Valley, he exhibited artistic talent from an early age, carving his first sculpture from a riverside rock at the age of 11 which ruined his father's chisels but gained his father's respect.
He later moved to New York where he continued to fashion window displays for various New York City department stores including Bergdorf Goodman and Bonwit Teller. His displays were featured in various magazines including Vogue.
During a trip to Europe, he discovered his affinity for working with plastics, especially epoxy resins, which would have a profound effect on his subsequent career. Various of his plastic works were featured in a November 1944 New York Times article titled "Plastics Shown in Decorative Role".
Later years and death
In 2006, PBS aired the documentary film, Emile Norman: By His Own Design, which covered much of Norman's life. The documentary was directed by Will Parrinello and produced by Parrinello, Michael Tucker and wife Jill Eikenberry, actors best known for their roles on the NBC television series, L.A. Lawe. The married couple were friends and neighbors of Norman having purchased land from him in Big Sur.
Norman's lifetime body of work includes sculptures, mosaics, panels, jewelry, and other forms. One of his most prominent works is the 40-by-46-foot mosaic window for the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California, which includes an assemblage of exterior stone sculptures.
The mosaic work is described as follows:
|“||Fabricated with an endomosaic process, it incorporates thousands of bits of metal, parchment, felt, linen, silk, natural foliage, thinly sliced vegetable matter, shells and sea life, plus 180 colors of stained glass. The lower portion of the frieze is made up of actual gravels and soils of the 58 counties of California and the islands of Hawaii. The window depicts the history of the wayfarers and the seafarers that helped found California Freemasonry.||”|
Norman often used an innovative technique bringing together various unique admixtures of epoxy resin, crushed glass, plastic, and wood. The created effect is not dissimilar to cloisonne or stained glass and is especially unusual when the artist would craft the layered effect over a wax form which, when later melted away, left behind a 3-dimensional sculpture.
- "Emile's Life". emilenorman.com.
- "TV review: Life of Big Sur artist Emile Norman". The San Francisco Chronicle. June 20, 2008.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (September 27, 2009). "Emile Norman dies at 91; artist created mosaic window for Masonic temple in San Francisco". The Los Angeles Times.
- Hamlin, Jesse (November 8, 2005). "It's lively and colorful, but a mural depicting history is showing its age". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
- Baker, Kenneth (September 26, 2009). "Pioneering California artist Emile Norman dies". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Emile Norman: By His Own Design". pbs.org. 2006.
- "TV documentary of Big Sur artist Emile Norman reveals a unique vision". The Monterey County Weekly. October 12, 2006.
- "Life of wonder: Artist Emile Norman's work has brought him around the world and back to 'magical' Big Sur". The Montgomery County Herald. September 25, 2009.