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Norman Rockwell's America: The Saturday Evening Post Covers

August 14 - October 3, 2004


Norman Rockwell's America is Joslyn's multifaceted celebration of the work of beloved American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), on view at the Museum from August 14 to October 3, 2004. .At the heart of this exhibition are the complete Saturday Evening Post covers from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Numbering 323 in all, these covers present both the images and format for which Rockwell was best known. At the start of his career, Rockwell viewed the well-established Post with great ambition, calling it the "greatest show window in America" for an illustrator. His career with the Post spanned 47 years, and for it he created recognizable, comforting images of "traditional" American life. (right: Norman Rockwell, Homecoming GI, Post cover, May 26, 1945, © SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved.)

For nearly 50 years, millions of Americans brought Norman Rockwell's art into their homes, where they enjoyed his latest Post cover in the comfort of a favorite chair. One of the first magazines to reach a million subscribers, the Post maintained a dominant position in American publishing until the mid-1930s and continued to have an impact on cultural life until it ceased weekly publication in 1969.

Rockwell thought of his illustrated magazine covers as "independent storytelling pictures." His favorite kind of work, cover illustration offered him the narrative freedom he so enjoyed. It also presented challenges for the artist, who sometimes struggled to devise interesting new subjects to paint. A cover must "please a vast number of people; it must not require an explanation or caption to be understood; it must have instantaneous impact," Rockwell noted. "People won't bother to puzzle over a cover's meaning." A gifted storyteller and a masterful painter, Rockwell made the towns in which he lived his stage settings and his neighbors his actors. His images celebrate the extraordinary in the commonplace, inspiring viewers to see things that they may not otherwise notice in the course of their busy lives. Universal and particular, his striking scenes of everyday life tell America's story with affectionate humor, dignity, and kindness.

The Norman Rockwell's America presentation will be enhanced by the inclusion of six artworks from the Norman Rockwell Museum representing several stages of Rockwell's process of composing his Post covers -- from sketches and charcoal drawings to color studies and a finished painting. Joslyn's own collection of Rockwell's Four Freedoms posters produced to support the war bond campaign during World War II will also be featured. (right: Norman Rockwell, Triple Self-Portrait, Post cover, Feb. 13, 1960, © SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved.)

An accompanying catalogue, Norman Rockwell's America, features images of every Post cover created by Rockwell with text and commentary by Christopher Finch who has written numerous books about popular culture. Available in Joslyn's Museum Shop,

Norman Rockwell's America: The Saturday Evening Post Covers has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Norman Rockwell Rights of Publicity Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, IL. Paintings from the National Scouting Museum have been lent by this institution in Irving, Texas. Support for this exhibition in Omaha is provided in part by Carmen and John Gottschalk, Gail W. and Michael B. Yanney, Mary and Charles Heider, Commercial Federal Bank, and Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.


Norman Rockwell's America: Paintings from the National Scouting Museum

As a companion to the exhibition of Post covers, Joslyn will present 20 works, including 10 oil paintings by Rockwell, from the collection of the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas. Very few people are aware of the famous artist's 64-year affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). During that time, Rockwell created 50 Scouting calendar covers, over 200 illustrations, and 11 covers for the BSA's Boys' Life magazine. From 1913-16 he was employed by the Boy Scouts as an art director producing covers for Boys' Life. Eager to expand his talent, he left his position in 1916 to publish his first Post cover. In 1924, Rockwell painted his first Boy Scout calendar cover as a thank-you to the Boy Scouts for helping him begin his career. He went on to create Boy Scout calendar covers for over 52 years. The National Scouting Museum owns 47 of these original paintings; the selection featured in Joslyn's Norman Rockwell's America exhibition will reveal the great interest Rockwell had in the youth of America.

Included in the selection of works from the National Scouting Museum are six paintings by artist and illustrator Joseph Csatari. Continuing in the great tradition of Rockwell, Csatari took over the BSA's annual calendar commission from the retiring Rockwell in 1976, combining his talents with knowledge of the organization to create more than two dozen paintings for the Boy Scouts. Csatari's career with the BSA began in 1953, when he was hired as a layout artist for the Supply Division's advertising department. In 1973, he became art director of Boys' Life magazine. Since 1976 and through the present, Csatari continues to share his talents by creating a Boy Scout painting with a different theme every year. (right: Norman Rockwell, Tomorrow's Leader, 1959, oil on canvas, Collection of the National Scouting Museum)

Another companion exhibition, The American Family Drawings from the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company Collection, will be displayed at the Cathedral Cultural Center on the campus of St. Cecilia Cathedral, August 14 through October 3. This show features 20 lithographs by Norman Rockwell stemming from drawings of everyday family life that he made for Mass Mutual advertisements in the 1950s and early 1960s.


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