Outsider Art Fair
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Norris Embry

American, 20th century
Born 1921, Louisville, Kentucky; died 1981, Louisville, Kentucky.

Norris Embry was a prolific artist who filled notebook after notebook with densely- wrought, lavishly-colored compositions combining edgy figures and totemic faces with random shapes and written notations, all of which constituted a kind of visual diary of his life. He was also diagnosed as schizophrenic. But his art and his illness are not one in the same. There are undoubtedly points of intersection between them, but they may be too subtle and too complex for the art historian or the psychiatrist separately to describe.

Although he was largely self-taught as a painter, his work was hardly the unmediated expression of a controlling pathology. Nor, according to those who knew him, was its primary value to him as a diagnostic or therapeutic tool. Embry was cultured, well- read, and widely-traveled, with connections to artists in the United States and Europe that shaped his art as much as, if not more than, any illness. He studied for one summer as a young man at the Art Institute of Chicago and for a few weeks in 1949 with the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka in Italy. His work shows a familiarity with various European expressionist styles, especially the figurative expressionism of Kokoschka’s early years, when he depicted distorted, even emaciated figures with dark outlines. Embry’s work also suggests a debt to the abstract expressionism of the German artist Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), whom Embry befriended in Paris in the early 1950s and whose painting blended networks of nervous lines and splotches of color and scumbled surfaces... 

- John Beardsley, catalogue essay, "Scios Nova Presents Works by Norris Embry," May 5-8, 1996, NY


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013, Norris Embry - Works on paper, 1962-1980, Galerie Lafon-Vosseler, Paris, France

1996, Works by Norris Embry, Scio Nova, New York, NY

1992, Selected works by NO, Heike Pickett Gallery, Lexington, KY

1992, Norris Embry: Selected Work, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY

1990, Selected work, Hal Katzen Gallery, New York, NY

1989, Selected work, 871 Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1987, Norris Embry, The Final Years 1978-1980, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY  

1987, Norris Embry, The Final Years 1978-1980, Rosa Esman Gallery, New York, NY

1985, Selected work, Monique Knowlton Gallery New York, NY

1984, Private Collection Gallery, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, NY

1982, Selected work, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD

1981, Memorial Exhibit, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1980, Selected work, Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD

1980, Selected work, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1978, Selected work, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1977, Selected work, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1977, Selected work, Galerie Leitzov, Berlin, Germany

1977, Selected work, Metropolitan Museum and Art Center, Miami, FL

1976, Selected work, Louise E. Thorn Memorial Art Gallery, Keene, NH

1976, Selected work, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1976, Selected work, Metropolitan Museum and Art Center, Miami, FL

1975, Selected work, MacDowell Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

1975, Selected work, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

1975, Selected work, Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY

1964, Selected work, Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY

1962, Art show sponsored by the Society of Contemporary American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

1962, Selected work, Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY

1958, Norris Emby: Selected Monographs, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA

1958, Athens, Greece Art show sponsored by the U.S. Information Center

1950, Selected work, Heinz Trokes Atelier, Berlin, Germany

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014, An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY

2014, An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle Grey Art Gallery, Katzen Arts Center, American University, Washington, DC

2014, An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle Grey Art Gallery, Pasadena Museum of Californian Art, Pasadena, CA

2013, An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle Grey Art Gallery, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

2010, Selected work, Heike Pickett Gallery, Versailles, KY

2005, Selected work, Heike Pickett Gallery, Versailles, KY

1997, Against the Grain, Snyder Fine Art, New York, NY

1992, Parallel Visions : Modern Artists and Outsider Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

1992, Ten Figurative Artists, Heike Pickett Gallery, Lexington, Kentucky

1992, Parallel Visions : Modern Artists and Outsider Art, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland

1992, Parallel Visions : Modern Artists and Outsider Art, Centro de Arte Riena Sophia, Madrid, Spain 

1992, Parallel Visions : Modern Artists and Outsider Art, Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

1989, An Art of Wondering : The King Ubu Gallery 1952-1953, Natsoulas Novelozo Gallery, Davis, CA

1984, Inspirit, Monique Knowlton Gallery, New York, NY

1984, Selected Drawings by 11 Artists, Willard Gallery, New York, NY

1977, Nothing but Nudes, The Whitney Museum of Art, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY

1974, Kentucky Expatriots, Owensboro Museum, Owensboro, KY

1973, Works on Paper, Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY

1966, Selected work, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

1965, Selected work, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY

1964, Selected work, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

1962, Selected work, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

1960, 100 Works on Paper : United States, Austria, Germany, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA

1958, USIS Exhibition, American Gallery, Athens, Greece

1953, Selected work, UBU Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1950, Selected work, Robert Duncan Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Selected Collections

The Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY
University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY

Selected Publications

Cotter, Holland, "Art in Review," The New York Times, October 9, 1992

Norris Embry, exhibition catalog, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1975

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