Norbert H. Kox (1945 - )

Birth date: 1945 Death date:  
Birth location: Green Bay, Wisconsin Death location:  
Media: Painting , Sculpture Web site:
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Norbert H. Kox

Norbert H. Kox is commonly known as an ‘Outsider’ artist, but that label could have been applied to him before he ever set paint to canvas.  His wild youth drove him from one extreme to the other and led him to develop his own perspective on religion—his primary subject matter.

Kox was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on August 6, 1945 and spent his youth trying to find an outlet for his creativity. While enlisted in the Army in 1962, he was turned on to painting, and then to the work of Salvador Dali. His exposure to Dali is still apparent in the way Kox composes his characters and objects in a warped, surreal environment.

After the military, Kox was able to use his creativity customizing autos in a Green Bay auto shop called Bullseye Body Shop.  During this time in his life, he was a member of The Outlaws, the notorious biker gang. He spent his 20s riding around Wisconsin and Iowa, making a name for himself within the group. His abuse of drugs and alcohol led him to a dangerous lifestyle that resulted in a drug overdose in 1975. He prayed that if he got healthy, he would change his lifestyle.

Kox was able to achieve gradual improvements in his life, until one day he needed to make a bigger change: “I received an inner calling to drop everything, give away all my possessions, and go into the north woods wilderness and live as a hermit. So I did.” In the woods near Suring, WI, Kox spent ten years praying, meditating, and studying Scripture.

He emerged from the woods with a completely transformed religious perspective. He completed a 900-page book entitled Six Nights Till Morning: The Real Star Wars. In it, he discusses the misconceptions and lies that resulted from generations of divergence from the original Scripture texts. He injected these messages into his painting.

In 1985, he returned to Green Bay and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. There he jumped back into his painting and religious studies and obtained a degree in art in 1990. His painting technique involves several layers of glaze, which bring out the luminosity of each color and provide depth to the composition. 

His works have received national and international attention for the disturbing imagery, as well as his criticism of the Christian church. His 1999 exhibit, To Hell and Back, received a great deal of media coverage. In spite of controversy, he sees his job as educating, and says that his goal is “pointing out things that I think are falsehoods, that expose wrong and point up good.” His work continues to be widely shown around the world.

(Biography contributed by Steve Koplitz.)

Wisconsin Affiliations

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Wisconsin Art Organizations

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