Norris Embry was born on January 14, 1921 in Louisville, Kentucky, and died on February 17, 1981 in the same city.
He grew up in East Orange, New Jersey outside New York City and Evanston, Illinois in the Chicago area, attending public schools through high school. He later studied at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland and the Art Institute in Chicago. In the late 1940’s, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy ; his teacher, the Expressionist painter Oskar Koskoschka, was to have a lasting influence on Embry’s work.
During his adolescent years in the Chicago area, Embry developed a keen interest in avant-garde literature, music and art. In 1947 Embry decided to devote his life to painting and, for the next 15 years until the early 1960’s, embarked on a nomadic artistic career which would take him from San Francisco to New York, to post-war Europe, as well as Turkey and North Africa.
Amongst the countries in Europe where he took up temporary residence were : Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England and Sweden. It was the Mediterranean culture and climate that struck a chord with his heart and his artistic imagination, and in particular, Greece where he returned frequently.
Throughout much of his life, Embry suffered from severe bouts of mental illness. In the mid- sixties, after having sought medical treatment at the Shepphard Pratt Institue in Baltimore, Maryland, he made that city his permanent residence. He continued to live and paint in Baltimore until the last weeks of his life.
After a series of strokes, he was transported to Louisville, Kentucky, where he died. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetary in Louisville.