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Emile's Life

Emile Norman was born on April 22, 1918, in San Gabriel, California. His father was a walnut grower, and Emile grew up in a natural setting, surrounded by mountains, rivers, and agriculture. Hollywood westerns were often filmed on the family property. Emile often remarks, "During the Depression we didn't starve, there was plenty to eat on the farm." There were fruit trees (including many flavorful varieties that are no longer commercially grown, which Emile remembers with great nostalgia), vegetables, chickens and pigs. Also horses, Emile loved to ride his favorite horse Dixie.

Already as a young boy he was focused on making art, inspired by the nature around him and using whatever materials he could put his hands on. Emile has always been an innovator. At age 16 he created a remarkable sculpture illustrating the myth of Prometheus, using concrete and the broken pieces of his father's beer bottles. He lasted in art school one day, when his teacher told him he was doing the assignment "the wrong way." He is very much self-motivated, self-directed.


As a young man he was a commercial artist, producing window displays for Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles and working on the sets of Hollywood films. At the age of 25 he made his first trip to New York, where he displayed his innovative creations made of plastics, such as window shades, jewelry, dishes (decorative bowls and cups) and screens. His jewelry was photographed in Vogue magazine, and he also produced window displays for Bergdof Goodman, Bonwit Teller, and other department stores.

His first major show as a non-commercial artist was in 1951 at the Feingarten Gallery in New York, where his marble sculptures of animals and abstract organic shapes displayed his signature blend of meticulous detail and a generous, sweeping lyricism.


Emile Norman
April 22, 1918 - September 24, 2009

In 2005, Emile created the Emile Norman Charitable Trust, a non-profit organization with the aim of preserving his artistic legacy and supporting cultural and humanitarian activities on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond.

Memorial donations may be sent to
Emile Norman Charitable Trust, 45955 Pfeiffer Ridge Road, Big Sur, California, 93920

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Emile Norman
P.O. Box 4268
Carmel, CA 93921
phone: 831-667-2236
email: info@emilenorman.com

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