Sunday, June 28, 2020

Norman Rockwell Never Got a Fair Shake

I love artwork of all shapes, sizes and mediums. But I have always been drawn to paintings mostly from 1500s‐1700s. A broad amount of styles are covered during this time frame. One painter I have never quite given his due is Norman Rockwell. 

As a child, I saw his paintings where everyone had comically screwed up expressions on their faces and I didn't care for it. So, apparently, I didn't think I liked any of his work. In college, I sat down on a couch at a party in a house I shouldn't have been in. There was a Norman Rockwell book on the coffee table. I picked it up hoping to somehow feel less uncomfortable. I was mesmerized. 

There were not only page after page of paintings I had never seen before, some were absolutely breathtaking.  WWII, Vietnam, The American Life, Social Justice Issues, Racial and Religious Turmoil. Mr. Rockwell's paintings covered every subject matter I could imagine.  The beauty struck me upside the head. Literally. I became tearful when studying a few of them. I knew I needed to find this amazing book and own it for my self. 

I never did find the book that I found on the coffee table that night.  I did look at the library, at garage sales and thrift stores and found a few, but none of them were as colorful or comprehensive.  

Earlier this year, I found a huge Norman Rockwell book at the local Goodwill. I was searching for books on Italy and came across a few beautiful arts books. My heart smiled when I saw the artist's name on the binding.  I was elated. It was not the same book from all those years ago, but one that I liked even more.  It was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company in 1999 and contained a large number of stories and additional information about each painting, commissions and where the painting resides today. 

And, to my delight, it contained all three of my favorite Rockwell paintings. 


The Connoisseur, 1962

By far, my favorite.  The Jackson Pollock on the wall, the floor pattern, the man's cane and hat. But most of all, how close the man is standing to view the Pollock.  I imagine he has stood there for quite some time. Finding something new in each brushstroke.


Southern Justice, Murder in Mississippi 1965

This amazing painting was the first to ever make me cry.  The shadows, the desperation, the scattered large and small rocks, the blood.  


Girl at Mirror, 1954

This beautiful young girl, stuck between being a child and adulthood. Studying her features in the mirror as she closely examines the starlet in the magazine. The soon to be forgotten doll.


I paged through the book which sits on a large silver platter on the footstool in the front living room the other day.  I explored the stories behind a few more paintings, but I saw myself gravitate back to these three.  Spellbinding.

I never gave this amazing artist a fair shake. Artwork grows on me. Something I thought I didn't like, now may have become my favorite. And I want to share it with others. 

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