Friday, August 25, 2006

Norman Rockwell Museum

Here is the last of my vacation posts. I’m afraid that not having reliable internet access for a week has put me behind schedule. While I post this I am actually at the World Science Fiction Convention (more on that latter) but I did write it on a wonderful breezy afternoon...far away from wireless connections.

As I write this, I am sitting on a park bench in the shadow of Norman Rockwell’s studio. A friend of mine, Gregory Manchess, has been teaching a class at the Rockwell Museum all week. I’ve been to the museum a number of times and it is always a thrill to see. Like the Brandywine, it has a very human’s easy to spend hours and see the entire exhibit without feeling overwhelmed.

The work is, of course, wonderful. Thankfully, it is no longer t
rendy to consider Rockwell trite. I can’t imagine looking at the hope, concern, relief, and yearning for goodness that Rockwell so poignantly portrays into his pictures without being deeply touched. His depictions of life’s passages, whether it be from pre-pubescence into quickly oncoming adulthood or veteran that has returned home from war, are always hopeful but they are never trite.

One of the interesting things about spending so much time here (besides the work) is eavesdropping -- I keep hearing people talk about their parents’ experiences with Rockwell, or their own experiences knowing or modeling for him. Today I heard a woman complain that he never paid his phone bill on time. I also saw an African-Amer
ican man explain to a small girl that his famil members, being only one of two African-American families in the area, were used as the models on the civil rights themed paintings Rockwell did. It’s sad to realize that these first-hand accounts will soon be gone.

I was also able to see the exhibit on the “fake” Rockwell. If you haven't heard the story of the forgery, click here. Interestingly, I heard from one of the m
useum curators that the forgery was nearly taken off the walls just a week or so before the original was found -- there was just too much evidence mounting against it. When compared to the original, the forgery does pale...but I have to admit that I loved this painting on earlier visits.


Anthony Schiavino said...

Rockwell is hands down one of my favorite illustrators of all time. Damn the art critics.

Any time I go up north I make it a point to try and visit the museaum. I love bringing my camera with me to take pictures of the grounds as well.

Sonja Foust said...

I grew up in Redlands, California and the public library actually commissioned Rockwell to paint the murals in the childrens books section. They're so beautiful and I spent a LOT of time at the library as a kid, so I've always felt a connection to him.

Anonymous said...

Robert Genn spoke about Rockwell in his newsletter back in April. This quote really spoke to me, partly because it kind of validates my goals for my writing.

Thought you might like it.

"I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be. So I painted only the ideal aspects of it--pictures in which there are no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers. Only foxy grandpas who played baseball with the kids and boys who fished from logs and got up circuses in the backyard." (Norman Rockwell)

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Moritat said...

I love the story behind the Rockwell forgery.All great artist should have a tale of intrigue. People (books)say that the Mona Lisa is actually hidden away in a English lords estate.

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