Joseph Nordmann


Renowned Artist Joseph Nordmann ’43 Donates Painting to BGSU’s School of Art

Impressionist painter and BGSU alumnus Joseph Nordmann ‘43, together with Texas art gallery owners Frances and Ray Ramsey, donated “Moss Landing Clouds” to the University. The painting was given in honor of his father, Dr. Bernard Frederick Nordmann, who taught history and political science at Bowling Green State University from 1931 through the mid 1950s.

The Ramseys presented the painting to the University in a small ceremony at the School of Art. Nordmann, who is 92, was unable to make the trip from his Southern California home.  Frances Ramsey said, “Ray, Joe and I are excited at the opportunity to place a part of Joe Nordmann back in his much-loved home.”  The painting is on display in the lobby of the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery.

Philanthropist Judith Herb, formerly of northwest Ohio, suggested and facilitated the donation. Herb visited the Ramsey’s gallery in Texas and they became friends as well as fellow art lovers. Herb suggested to the Ramseys that it would be nice to have Nordmann donate one of his paintings to the art collection at Bowling Green State University. “The rest is now history,” said Herb.

Nordmann’s connection to BGSU started when his father accepted a teaching position here.  Twelve years later, Nordmann graduated from the University with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. He earned his master’s degree in chemistry and chemical engineering from University of Southern California and then a Ph.D. in chemistry and chemical engineering at Purdue University. He taught chemistry at several California colleges throughout his career.

In the late 1940s, Nordmann began to express his life-long love of art through oil painting.  He studied with a variety of famous artists as he continued his teaching career until 1978 and then focused all his time and attention on landscape painting.

Nordmann’s biography, “The Art of a Full Life,” written by Frances Ramsey, shares the many facets of his life. In it, Ramsey refers to Nordmann as “the thinking man’s artist” and “a modern-day Renaissance man – a life combining the rational and the passionate.” From chemistry professor to bartender in the U.S. Virgin Islands during a sabbatical, Nordmann also worked part time for the Los Angeles Rams as a coaching assistant.

Following the presentation of the painting, Director of the School of Art Dr. Katerina Ruedi Ray, thanked the Ramseys and Herb for the painting, saying “It is so wonderful to have this beautiful work in our collection.  This donation to the University has brought Mr. Nordmann full circle.”