Synopsis by Nathan Southern
From the beginning, artist Emile Norman redefined 'iconoclast' via the degree to which he bucked the system and went his own way. Though raised on a ranch in the San Gabriel Valley in the early 20th century, Norman gravitated to the bohemian lifestyles of Big Sur, California and simultaneously both acknowledged and embraced his innate homosexual longings - an inclination capped via his 30+-year relationship with filmmaker and photographer Brooks Clement. As a visual pioneer, Norman shook up New York City's art world with astonishing displays at Bergdorf -Goodman's and in the San Francisco Masonic Temple, and impacted Hollywood as well, with such feats as designing the chorus girl costumes in the Fred Astaire movie Blue Skies. As produced by Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker and originally screened on PBS, the documentary Emile Norman: By His Own Design charts Norman's life, career and artwork, as it profiles his distinct paradigm.