Emile Norman

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Emile Norman
Emil Nomann

April 22, 1918 (1918-04-22)
DiedSeptember 24, 2009 (2009-09-25) (aged 91)
Known forSculpture, mosaic, panel, jewelry
Notable work
Mosaic window/stone sculptures
Nob Hill Masonic Center
San Francisco, California, U.S.

Emile Norman (April 22, 1918 ‒ September 24, 2009), born as Emil Nomann, was an American artist known for his sculptors, mosaics, panels, and jewelry.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Emile Norman was born in 1918 in San Gabriel, California, located in Los Angeles County.[2][3] 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.[3][4]


Nobody ever gives

you permission...

to become an artist.

— Emile Norman [5]

Norman began his professional career fashioning window displays for department store, Bullocks Wilshire, in Los Angeles, California.

He later moved to New York City where he continued to fashion window displays for various 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.[6][7] Various of his plastic works were featured in a November 1944 article in The New York Times titled "Plastics Shown in Decorative Role".

In 1946, Norman moved to California's central coastal region known as Big Sur where he set up a home-studio.[8]

Later years and death[edit]

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. Law. The married couple were friends and neighbors of Norman having purchased land from him in Big Sur.[3][9]

On September 24, 2009, Emile Norman died in Monterey, California.[7] He was 91. He was survived by three sisters: Marilyn Bogart, Mabel Malone, and Edna Rhodes.[3]


The Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California, featuring the mosaic window and exterior stone sculptures of Emile Norman

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.[10][10]

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.[6]


  1. ^ "Emile's Life". emilenorman.com.
  2. ^ a b "TV review: Life of Big Sur artist Emile Norman". The San Francisco Chronicle. June 20, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Indie film traces the life of an artist". The Mail Tribune of Southern Oregon, April 11, 2007, Bill Varble. Archived from the original on June 28, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "All the pieces of Emile Norman's life as artist and gay man, together on film". The San Francisco Chronicle. October 14, 2006.
  7. ^ a b Baker, Kenneth (September 26, 2009). "Pioneering California artist Emile Norman dies". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ "Emile Norman: By His Own Design". pbs.org. 2006.
  9. ^ "TV documentary of Big Sur artist Emile Norman reveals a unique vision". The Monterey County Weekly. October 12, 2006. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "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.

External links[edit]