Sunday 13 March 2011

Norman Rockwell

Last week I went to the Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. There is a huge wall of The Saturday Evening Post covers and many original finished paintings and studies to compare them with. I was slightly surprised by the variation in scale, which had nothing to do with his age or time-line of artworks: some were very small and incredibly detailed, going right through to a single life-sized figure painted relatively crudely on a coarser canvas. A interesting show on the whole, which runs until March 27.

1953 Self-Portrait painting "The Soda Jerk"

Rockwell’s paintings were recognized and loved by almost everybody in America. The cover of The Saturday Evening Post was his showcase for over forty years, giving him an audience larger than that of any other artist in history. Over the years he depicted there a unique collection of Americana, a series of vignettes of remarkable warmth and humor. In addition, he painted a great number of pictures for story illustrations, advertising campaigns, posters, calendars, and books.

1953 The Soda Jerk

As his personal contribution during World War II, Rockwell painted the famous "Four Freedoms" posters, symbolising for millions the war aims as described by President Franklin Roosevelt. One version of his "Freedom of Speech" painting is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1943 Freedom of Speech

Rockwell left high school to attend classes at the National Academy of Design and later studied under Thomas Fogarty and George Bridgman at the Art Students League in New York. His early illustrations were done for St. Nicholas magazine and other juvenile publications. He sold his first cover painting to the Post in 1916 and ended up doing over 300 more. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson sat for him for portraits, and he painted other world figures, including Nassar of Egypt and Nehru of India.

1960 John F Kennedy

In 1957 the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington cited him as a Great Living American, saying that..."Through the magic of your talent, the folks next door - their gentle sorrows, their modest joys - have enriched our own lives and given us new insight into our countrymen."
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts has established a large collection of his paintings, and has preserved Rockwell's last studio as well.

 1943 Freedom of Worship

1943 Freedom from Fear

1943 Freedom from Want

1929 The Doctor and the Doll

1943 Rosie the Riveter

1953 Girl with a Black Eye

1964 The Problem We All Live With

After the Prom

Homecoming Marine

1948 Christmas

1956 Teacher's Birthday

Girl at Mirror

1937 Gaiety Dance Team

The Volunteer Fireman

Willie and Gillis

1917 They Remembered Me

1920 But Wait Until Next Week

1920 Retribution

1921 A Drum for Tommy

1921 Girl Reading Palm

1924 Daydreaming Book-keeper

1924 Parade

1926 Boy and Girl Gazing at the Moon

1926 Sign Painter

1930 Gary Cooper as "The Texan"

1932 The Puppeteer

1935 Couple in the Rumble Seat

1935 Santa Reading Mail

1936 Spring Tonic

1938 Artist Facing Blank Canvas (Deadline)

1944 The Tattooist

1946 Charwomen in the Theatre

1947 Boy in the Dining car

1948 April Fool Girl with Shopkeeper

1955 Art Critic

1955 Football Hero

1958 The Runaway

1962 The Connoiseur

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