The central motif of all of Norman Daly’s work was the mythic figure, usually human, sometimes animal, and always transmuted by a wide range of abstracting techniques so as to honor formal values. In addition, his work was deeply inflected by homage to the Native American and Spanish-American visual cultures of the Southwest. Finally, in the Civilization of Llhuros, Norman Daly’s unique imagination succeeded in uniting an ever-delightful particularity of visual content with a universality of thematic concerns to produce an unprecedented experience of pleasure, mystery, and thought provocation.
While teaching students at Cornell University in the 1940s and 1950s, Norman Daly's career as a painter flourished, with regular exhibits in New York City, and acquisitions of his work by museums. In the 1960s he turned to sculpture, concentrating on assemblages and a series of of carved marble bas-relief. This work led directly to his conception of a complex “imaginary” civilization, the manifold productions of which constituted ultimately a multimedia installation. "The Civilization of Llhuros" was a monumental creation and the first and still preeminent presentation of archaeological art. This work was exhibited widely in the United States and Germany in 1972-1975, and was sampled for small-scale review exhibitions at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University in 2004, and at MO.CO. Panacée - Centre d'Art Contemporain in Montpellier, France. In 2019 a full exhibition of "Llhuros" was a centerpiece of the 16th Istanbul Biennial.