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 John Warner Norton  (1876 - 1934)

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Lived/Active: Illinois/South Carolina      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape, figure, decorative and genre painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
John Warner Norton
from Auction House Records.
Landscape with a House
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Lockport, Illinois, John Warner Norton "successfully bridged the gap between conservative ideals and modern impulses in Chicago's early twentieth-century art world." (Kennedy 137

He had traditional training at the Art Institute of Chicago, beginning 1910, and later became one of the more avant-garde progressive teachers of the Institute.  One of his major influences was adapting modernist styles to mural painting, and the results of this innovation can be seen in his projects that include Frank Lloyd Wright's Midway Gardens and the Century of Progress Exposition.

In the late 1920s, he also did collaborative art-deco decorative projects for Chicago commercial and civic buildings designed by Holabird & Root and Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.  Among the projects were Art-Deco murals of the Chicago Daily News Building and the newly constructed Chicago Board of Trade Building, 1930.

He also was a muralist in Birmingham, Alabama; St. Paul, Minnesota; Beloit, Wisconsin; and in Europe and the Caribbean.

Among his exhibition venues were the Art Institute of Chicago, 1926; Architectural League of New York, 1931; and Century of Progress Exposition, 1933.

Memberships included the Chicago Society of Artists.

Elizabeth Kennedy, Chicago Modern, 1893-1945, Pursuit of the New
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

Written by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier

Biography from Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site:
John Warner Norton was an American painter and muralist who was born on March 7, 1876, in Lockport, Illinois.  His formal art training was at the Art Institute of Chicago.

During his career, Norton was a member of the Chicago Society of Artists, received the Harris bronze medal ($300) at the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1926; and a gold medal in 1931 from the Architectural League of New York.  Other than an artist, Norton earned a living as an instructor at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

Norton completed a series of mural paintings for the Frank G. Logan Archaeological Museum in Beloit, Wisconsin.  His murals are also at Saint Paul City Hall and the Court House in Minnesota, and the Birmingham Court House in Alabama. 

His works are mostly found in the Chicago area, such as the Daily News Building, the Normal College and the Trade Center.  Norton was in Charleston, South Carolina when he died on January 7, 1934.


Dawdy, Doris Ostrander.  Artists of the American West:  A Biographical Dictionary.  [1974] 3 vols.  Chicago: Swallow Press.  1985.

Falk, Peter Hastings.  Who Was Who in American Art.  Connecticut: 1985.  Sound View Press.  1985.

Fielding, Mantle.  Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers.  Ed. by Glenn B. Optiz.  New York: Apollo Book.  1986.

Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge.  Mallett's Index of Artists:  International--Biographical...  New York: Peter Smith.  1948.

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