Norris Embry

May , 1987 | Timothy Cohrs

ARTS magazine (USA)

The recent exhibition of the works of Oskar Kokoschka mounted at the Guggenheim Museum highlighted both the influence Kokoschka had on Noris Embry and the vast differences between the vision of these two artists.

Embry spent the years 1947-1958 – his late twenties to midthirties – in Europe where he studied with Kokoschka. Arguably, certain aspects of Embry’s color sense and his penchant for very flat, sometimes overlapping figurative forms seem to be due, more or less, to the influence of Kokoschka.

But the differences between these two arists vastly outweigh the similarities. Whereas Kokoschka’s portraits and Fauve-colored cityscapes are at times very bourgeois and placid , however odd the coloration and however ugly the sitter is made to be, Embry’s paintings and works on paper are acute and disturbing, forcing a driven obsessive persona off of the work and out toward the viewer .

The differences can perhaps be summed up metaphorically by citing the manner in which each signed his works : Kokoschka with OK and Embry with a bold, black NO.