Born in Sweden, Nordfeldt emigrated in 1891 to Chicago, where he began his art training in 1899 with a year at the Art Institue. Following a decade of painting, printmaking and study in Chicago and Europe, Nordfeldt moved in 1919 to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he remained for the next twenty years. While abroad, Nordfeldt had absorbed the work of the Fauves and Expressionists. His first New Mexico paintings were Cèzannesque renderings of Indian dances. Other etching, lithographs, and paintings portrayed the simple dignity of Hispanic neighbors or analyzed the rugged topography of the Southwest. Nordfeldt's work in New Mexico represents a marriage of his formal predilections with an aggressive environment. Much of his later abstract painting would proceed from the interactions of these two elements. His direct and vigorous brushwork converted landscapes, portraits, and still lives into powerful formal statements.