Sun, 21 Jun 2009 13:36:39The National Museum of American Illustration, located on Newport’s famed Bellevue Avenue, a short distance from The Spring Seasons Inn is hosting a special exhibition entitled, Norman Rockwell, American Imagist, Rhode Island’s first ever Normal Rockwell exhibition from June 6th – August 31st, 2009.
Norman Rockwell’s heartwarming depictions of everyday life made him the best-known and most beloved American artist of the 20th century. He lived and worked through one of the most eventful periods in the nation’s history and his paintings vividly chronicled those times. His images often served as a mirror of American life, reflecting not who we really were, so much as what we thought and felt – and what we subconsciously endeavored to become.
Norman Rockwell: American Imagist exhibits a remarkable collection of selected original art spanning six decades, providing us with a comprehensive look at his career.
Rockwell was a storyteller during a time when so-called “serious” art was neither narrative nor representational. His painted stories were folksy, humorous, and often topical, but Rockwell was more than just a chronicler of the times. He had a genius for knowing which stories to tell, how to tell them and what details to emphasize. It has been said that a Rockwell painting does not require an explanation, a caption or even a title. It speaks to us directly.
Although Rockwell is most associated with small-town America, he was in fact born and raised in New York City. At 21, he moved to New Rochelle, New York, to be near his idol, the notable illustrator and icon-maker, J. C. Leyendecker. He set up a studio and began to sell freelance work to magazines such as: Life, Literary Digest and Country Gentleman.
In 1916, at the age of 22, Rockwell painted his first cover for the prestigious Saturday Evening Post beginning a long (1916-1963) and fruitful relationship. Most readers immediately recognized his covers, and responded well to the charming portraits of American life. Readers became fans and followed his covers through the Depression years and World War II.
In 1943, the entire nation joined together when he created the Four Freedoms, which toured in an exhibition raising $135 million for the war effort through the sale of war bonds.
The Saturday Evening Post covers became Rockwell’s greatest legacy. Yet he parted ways with the Saturday Evening Post in 1963 and began to work for Look magazine, where he had more creative freedom. The Look illustrations included his first socially conscious work concerning civil rights, space travel and other issues of national concern.
Rockwell lived the last 25 years of his life with his wife Molly in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. On November 8, 1978, he died in Stockbridge at the age of 84, leaving an unfinished painting on his easel. Norman Rockwell was an American Imagist, whose art captured America and ultimately the world.
Some critics have called his art too sentimental to be taken seriously, but the fact that his work continues to resonate and find new audiences in the 21st century says something else. There is a universality to his appeal, suggesting that Rockwell’s real subjects were not simply “grandfathers, puppy dogs – stuff like that,” as the artist once said, but something larger, if less tangible.
This exhibition permits us to review selected works in chronological order, making the stages of his career recognizable and his images more poignant. These original works give the viewer a chance to see Rockwell’s accomplished technique and superb craftsmanship, which are sometimes overlooked in the more widely seen reproductions of his work.
Norman Rockwell: American Imagist asserts Rockwell’s place as a great American artist/ illustrator and suggests that his real and most enduring subject matter was capturing The American Spirit.
This exhibition, curated by Judy Goffman Cutler and organized by Laurence S. Cutler along with the American Illustrators Gallery and the National Museum of American Illustration, gives us the opportunity to experience Rockwell close up and marvel at his painterly skills.
While visiting the National Museum of American Illustration, plan to stay at The Spring Seasons Inn in Newport, Rhode Island , where your exclusive Rhode Island adventure awaits you.