Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Norman Rockwell Museum

For those of you that don't know (young people and Brits) Norman Rockwell was the quintessential (which I spelt correctly on the FIRST shot) American painter. Even if you don't know him, you will know his many paintings. His adult home was in Stockbridge Massachusetts, where the Normal Rockwell museum is. If you think his stuff is all kitsch (like I did), you would be amazed.

His biggest claim to fame (and earliest) was as a THE key cover artist of the Saturday Evening Post. A super prestigious position. The library has a vast collection of different covers. They range for images of everyday life, the first published covers in 4 colors,  to the portrait of John F. Kennedy used in homage after his assassination. 

His most famous pieces are the "Four Freedoms" he painted. He did these after FDR's speech on our desires for the world post-WWII. In particular, Freedom from Want has been used as the idea of the perfect family, far transcending its earliest meaning.

I did not take this. Select to increase size.

In this same time (post WWI) he painting the beautiful image about the beauty of man's humanity, multiculturalism in faith and Americans.

He was also effect by and affected the civil rights movement. The most famous painting of his from that era is the small Black girl being escorted to school with the US Marshalls. That is the painting that helped turned many Americans against segregation. It's simple message, delivered by Norman Rockwell was eye-opening to many.

Originally for Life magazine.

But he also painted a Murder in Memphis, which I never have seen before. And it is so powerful. For this he purposely changed his style to the classic proportions and painful reality to fully capture the pain of the moment. It was stunning.

Murder in Memphis

You can tell the museum is working to expand our opinion of him as more that just a Humorest. The pictures included the actual dress the girl wore in the picture. And character studies to find exactly the right image to move people. The Murder in Memphis charcoal studies and notes were there to illustrate Rockwell's anguish at the Civil Rights issues facing all Americans.

The Museum itself housed the original studio on the land. We had a grand day out.

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