Sunday, September 17, 2006

NORMAN ROCKWELL …an American Treasure

No one of my age can forget the covers of “Life” magazine that were so lovingly illustrated by Norman Rockwell from the years of 1916 through 1942. There were over 321 of them.

Last month I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in his home town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts and what a treat it was to see the originals. I experienced a gamut of emotions as I studied his paintings...a feeling of pride for “The Four Freedoms”, a chuckle or two at his wry humor and a loud guffaw at the many faces depicting the cover, “The Gossip”.

The picture above is a self portrait of the artist faced with the dilemma of a deadline and no idea what to paint. As Rockwell himself explained, “It was in agony of soul that this cover was done.”

The other picture is the April 24th, 1926 cover. The poor little dog is being ignored by his master and seems very sad about the whole affair. Just another of his paintings that will tug at your heartstrings.

Rockwell started his career at the age of 18 when he became art editor of “Boy’s Life”, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. When he was 22 one of his paintings appeared on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” and his career was launched.

There are those who will argue that Norman Rockwell paintings are not “great art” but I contend that his popularity is well deserved. He was a painter for and of the commonplace and his works could be seen across America in books, advertisements, calendars and on the covers of popular magazines such as the “Post”, “Look”, and “Ladies’ Home Journal”.

He loved the ordinary people and he was very concerned with the big issues of his day, such as racism, poverty and social injustice and he put his paint brush where his interests lay. The Norman Rockwell lifestyle may be gone but his paintings will be with us forever.


Blogger Joy Des Jardins said...

Hi Ginnie,

I totally agree with you. Norman Rockwell is an American treasure. He may not be considered one of the great artists of our time, but I disagree. He has always been the artist that captured "Americana" as far as I'm concerned. I love his style. I'm a huge jigsaw puzzle lover, and I have several of his paintings as puzzles. That way I get to enjoy his art...and one of my favorite hobbies.

BTW...this is the first time I've visited your site....I like it very much Ginnie. I've seen your comments on a lot of the same blogs that I frequent. Take care...I'll be back....

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed he is one of our treasures. He had a magic way of capturing everyday life in his paintings and thus giving us almost always a humorous reflection of who we really are.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Betty said...

I think great art is in the eye of the beholder, if I may paraphrase an old saying. I saw a cartoon of two ladies in a museum, peering at one of Reubens' nudes. One lady was saying, "I may not know much about art, but I know fat when I see it."

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a great fan of Norman Rockwell and would just love to visit that museum some day.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also agree...Rockwell was a treasure and his work was the epitome of Americana during that time.
I loved his paintings.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 40 and I've always loved Rockwell. In my opinion he is a true artist; I really can't even understand the distinction some people make between "artist" and "illustrator". His paintings each contain so much insight into life that I would go so far as calling Rockwell a very wise philosopher.

But I'm troubled; where are the people that appreciate Rockwell congregating now? What towns do they live in where they can drive down the street without seeing billboards advertising Jockey underwear?

When will the Jockey billboards disappear from America? Will we have to wait another generation or two until everything falls apart and we are too busy picking up the pieces to bother with Jockey underwear billboards?

9:54 AM  

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