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Sackett 2010-07-05 16:07

Norman Rockwell... a coward?
I'm trying to figure out if this guy is serious, or is he engaging in a heavy handed bit of satire?

Tell me what you guys think.

Personally I'm a big fan of Norman Rockwell paintings. I think they're great.

His conclusion is especially suspicious to me:


Most reactions to Rockwell, however, continue to be decidedly simpler. Steven Spielberg has said, "I look back at these paintings as America the way it could have been, the way someday it may again be." He and others have bought Rockwell's bill of goods. But what these speakers, and these pictures, fail to grasp is that the special, courageous greatness of the nation lies in its definitive refusal of any single "American way."

America isn't about Rockwell's one-note image of it -- or anyone else's. This country is about a game-changing guarantee that equal room will be made for Latino socialists, disgruntled lesbian spinsters, foul-mouthed Jewish comics and even, dare I say it, for metrosexual half-Canadian art critics with a fondness for offal, spinets and kilts.
Uhh... call me crazy but I don't think the "American way" is about Canucks who like offal. In fact I'm pretty sure the Canadian way isn't about Canucks who like offal. Maybe the Scots have something about offal going on over in Scotland, since they like haggis and all. And I guess you can eat it in America if you want to, after all it's a free country. But I don't see why American painters are obligated to celebrate it.


Good grief, now I'm reading the version of the text that is going next to Rockwell's paintings. It follows the same pattern over and over. It quotes someone saying something nice about Norman Rockwell, and then adds commentary about how Rockwell actually sucks.



Norman Rockwell, "Boy Reading Adventure Story," from 1923. George Lucas, the painting's owner, has said that it is "a painting celebrating literature, the magic that happens when you read a story, and the story comes alive for you." Rockwell's art has an unfortunate capacity for calling forth platittudes.
What? Are they saying that we shouldn't celebrate literature? Is the author saying that when a story comes alive for us, that that isn't magical?

Oh, and by the way "platitudes" is spelled with two Ts not three.


Norman Rockwell's 1918 "Children Dancing at a Party (Pardon Me)," owned by film director and producer Steven Spielberg. Spielberg says that "It is a scene of innocent humor -- something we've all done when we were younger." But that may point to a flaw more than to a virtue: Rockwell appeals by showing us the things we already know.
Maybe Rockwell is a good artist because he reminds of things we shouldn't forget?

I mean... good grief. Okay if Nomarn Rockwell isn't your thing okay, but... really?

Vexx 2010-07-05 16:34

"Coward" is a bit extreme (but sells articles) but yeah, Rockwell stayed comfortably within the "white American" fantasy of the mid-20th century of the 40s and 50s. He actually wanted to include more blacks in his art doing the same sorts of things but was forbidden by his publisher from doing so.... he did manage to get a few published after the idea of civil rights had gone mainstream.

I'd no more blast what he did than I'd blast modern day commercials that even now fear to use inter-racial couples with a very few notable exceptions. Commercial art tends to lag reality and his stuff was centerpoint commercial art. One might as well start beating up the 50s "family sitcoms" like Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver.

I'd say the article writer has at least as much baggage he's toting as Rockwell :)

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