B.J.O. Nordfeldt (1878 - 1955)
A Swedish immigrant, Bror Julius Nordfeldt became one of the better known of the early 20th-century American modernists. He was an etcher and engraver as well as an oil painter. Nordfeldt gained early attention for his abstract, non-academic depictions of everyday subject matter, focusing on still lifes, portraits, and figures. His treatment of Native Americans was startling to many. He depicted them with stylistic distortion and abstraction, conveying an air of mystery that invited viewers to regard them as human beings with psychological depth, and not just ethnic curiosities.
In Chicago, Nordfeldt worked as an engraver, portrait artist, set designer for the Little Theatre, and teacher. His students included Raymond Jonson, a modernist painter who later joined him in New Mexico. From 1918 to 1938, Nordfeldt lived in Santa Fe. He was one of the founding members of the Indian Arts Fund, an organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of local Native Americans. Encouraged by his artist friend, Russell Cowles, Nordfeldt added landscapes to his subject matter, but destroyed many of these paintings before leaving New Mexico. The artist lived his last years in Lambertville, New Jersey. After his death in 1955, the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited his works in a memorial exhibition.