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Norman Rockwell

September 20 - January 3, 2010

 

People like to think that Rockwell painted Middle America.
The truth is, Norman Rockwell invented Middle America.
- Artist/Illustrator Tom Sgouros, Rhode Island School of Design
 
 
Even the most brittle cynics melt in the presence of all that wholesomeness.
- Robert A.M. Stern, architect of the Rockwell Museum

 

"I paint life as I would like it to be," said the great illustrator Norman Rockwell. Seeing himself as a storyteller, Rockwell created the images that defined America and Americans, in this country and abroad. His enormous impact was achieved through the 321 covers he created for the Saturday Evening Post from 1916 to 1963. Among Rockwell's most memorable renditions of Americana is his iconic Four Freedoms series of patriotic paintings symbolizing President Roosevelt's wartime aims: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. This contribution to the war effort, published in four consecutive issues of the Saturday Evening Post, raised nearly $140 million in war bonds. (right: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Bridge Game - The Bid, 1948, oil on canvas, 46 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches, signed lower left. Saturday Evening Post cover, May 15, 1948. LNM #C443. © 2009 National Museum of American Illustration Newport RI www.AmericanIllustration.org. Photos courtesy Archives of American Illustrators Gallery NYC.)

Norman Rockwell, opening at Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) on Sunday, September 20, 2009 and remaining on view through Sunday, January 3, 2010, is organized by American Illustrators Gallery, New York City and The National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, Rhode Island. The exhibition is curated for NCMA by Constance Schwartz and Franklin Hill Perrell and includes approximately 300 Saturday Evening Post covers and about 48 Rockwell paintings.

A poet of the American heartland, Norman Rockwell was born 115 years ago in Manhattan's Upper West Side. He demonstrated drawing talent from his earliest years, sketching as literary works were read to him aloud. While in high school, he studied at the Chase School of Fine and Applied Art. Leaving school before graduation, he went on to attend the National Academy of Design, later transferring to the Art Students League. His earliest commission, at the age of 16, was for Christmas cards. He was then retained to illustrate a series of children's books. Rockwell became the art director for Boy's Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. His association with the Boy Scouts was to continue for a half century. Rockwell began freelancing his services to magazines, among them Life, Literary Digest and Country Digest. At 22, he began his legendary association with the Saturday Evening Post, the most prestigious magazine of that era. Rockwell's first work for the Post was Mother's Day Off which ran on the May 20, 1916 cover. From then, until 1963, he went on to produce 321 Post covers. It was these illustrations that came to be his greatest legacy.

In conjunction with the showing of Norman Rockwell, NCMA is sponsoring several public programs to illuminate and enhance the experience of viewing the exhibition. For information about the events or to register, call (516) 484-9338, ext 12 or log onto http://www.nassaumuseum.com/

The exhibition is sponsored by Sterling Glen Senior Living with support from Wachovia Bank and Wells Fargo and Company.

 

(above: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Volunteer Fireman, 1931, oil on canvas, 41 x 31 inches, signed lower right. Saturday Evening Post cover, March 28, 1931 . Buechner, illus. 265. LNM #C322. © 2009 National Museum of American Illustration Newport RI www.AmericanIllustration.org. Photos courtesy Archives of American Illustrators Gallery NYC. )

 

Essay

To view The Remembrance of Things Past: Norman Rockwell at Nassau County Museum of Art, by Charles A. Riley II, PhD, Curator-at-Large, please click here.

 

Additional images

To view additional images from the exhibition please click here.

 

Object labels

To view object labels from the exhibition please click here.

 

Resource Library readers may also enjoy:

Resource Library articles and essays by Franklin Hill Perrell:

Resource Library articles and essays by Constance Schwartz:

Resource Library articles and essays by Franklin Hill Perrell and Constance Schwartz:

 

Online videos:

AOL Television offers Biography: Norman Rockwell, [47:00] via truveo.com which says of the video: "It is a source of fury to the formal art world that Norman Rockwell was and remains the most visible and beloved of the American painters of this century. His name has come to symbolize the best of an era when American had a single clean, shining patriotic vision. A time when God, country and goodness meant not just something, but everything. While the 320 Rockwell covers for the "Saturday Evening Post" are part of the past, his happy fame lives on in the collections of people as diverse as Richard Nixon, Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, Andy Warhol and Ringo Starr. This biography uncovers the complicated man who produced the glorious and uncomplicated paintings that thrilled America for sixty years--from his deathless "Four Freedoms" and "Willie Gillis G.I." series to h is panoply of civil rights, baseball, young love and Christmas classics. This biogrpahy illustrates not only the artist and his paintings, but the nation as Rockwell helped shape it. Filled with the insights of experts and the people who knew Rockwell. A perfect delight.". Distributed by Lou Reda Productions.

ArtBabble's American Art channel on the site contained, as of August, 2009: -- "Conserving Norman Rockwell's "United Nations"" from Norman Rockwell Museum [0:14:19] and -- "Norman Rockwell Museum: An Introduction" from Norman Rockwell Museum [0:06:34]

 

Illustrated audio:

Smithsonian American Art Museum presents Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, July 2, 2010 - January 2, 2011: video podcast (illustrated audio) about the exhibition

 

DVD-VHS videos:

Norman Rockwell: An American Portrait is a 60 minute 2002 video from V.I.E.W. Video is a PBS special, narrated by 3-time Emmy Award nominee Mason Adams. Norman Rockwell had a love affair with America. His poignant paintings captured the truths of daily life with a simple humane grace and greeted Americans from the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for over five decades. This documentary celebrates Rockwell's life and art, with interviews and commentary by art historians, close friends and the artist himself. "This notable documentary shows Rockwell was a perceptive social commentator of exceptional artistic skill and narrative power" (Entertainment Weekly). DVD: Bonus features include a Norman Rockwell biography, an art gallery and more.

Norman Rockwell. "Norman Rockwell's distinctive illustrations, glowing with the simple, noble character of average citizens, crystallized an image of 20th century American life." This 50 minute 1994 A&E Biography video "provides an intimate portrait of the artist and the man with interviews of friends and people he used as models and takes us on a tour of the Norman Rockwell Museum and his best-known images."

Norman Rockwell: Painting America is an 86 minute 1999 American Masters Production from Winstar Home Entertainment.based on the award-winning PBS series. Norman Rockwell: Painting in America looks at the life and art of one of America's most celebrated illustrators. Best known for his memorable covers of The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell achieved unprecedented fame for masterfully showing warmth and humor in his renderings of everyday life. This program includes interviews with artists, critics, historians, friends and admirers, as well as archival newsreel and television footage of the artist himself. VHS/DVD. Click here to view an extended clip of the video.

Norman Rockwell's World: An American Dream is a 24 minute 1972 video directed by Robert Deubel that presents the world of American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) through reenactment, stills, paintings, and old film footage. Rockwell himself narrates this Academy Award®-winning film. Using the artwork and the commentary of Rockwell himself in combination with old film footage and staged reenactments, the Saturday Evening Post covers once again come alive.

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rev. 9/8/09

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