Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Most Favorite Artist...Norman Rockwell

As many of you know I love art, and consider myself to be one. So, as it was a bad day emotionally, and I want to not focus on that, I thought I would share my most favorite artist with you. Even though with the help of a friend, I am finding some new ones, there is only one Norman Rockwell.

Saying Grace,1951

Norman Rockwell is my MOST favorite artist of all time. I have done papers on him, I have focused on him as my main subject matter in a graphic design class. He and his work are an inspiration to me. His paintings WERE American life, or what we dreamed American life should be. Which is why his work was used for over 40 years as the cover art for The Saturday Evening Post.

Most of you know him from the character Rosie the Riveter. She was created and painted by Norman Rockwell. He is also most famous for his The Four Freedoms series.

Norman tried to enlist in the service during World War I, but was rejected, because at 6 feet tall and only 140 pounds, he was 8 pounds underweight. To make them enlist him, he gorged himself on banana sundaes and such and went back the next day and was enlisted. Sadly, in his eyes, he was assigned to be a military artist, and never saw action during his tour of duty. I say it was good for us, because we may have never gotten to experience his greatness otherwise.

At the age of 21, he submitted his first work for The Saturday Evening Post. I think they must have liked this tall, gangly fellow, because Rockwell published a total of 321 original covers for The Saturday Evening Post over 47 years. 47!!

Norman Rockwell created over 4000 paintings, which have either been purchased by collectors or destroyed in fires. He did the illustrations for over 40 books, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Rockwell's work was dismissed by ciritics during his lifetime. They found it too sentimental and idealistic. So he is still, to this day, is considered by some to not be a "serious painter". Some sneered that he wasted his brilliant technique on "banal use". One author said he was Salvador Dali's twin that was kidnapped by Gypsies. Some critics said he was not a painter, only an illustrator, but this didn't bother my hero. Nope, norman considered himself an illustrator too, so it was no skin off his nose. It does bother me however. He was an artist, period.

Later in his life, he began recieving more attention as a painter, when he chose serious subjects, such as racism. In 1999, The New Yorker art critic said of Rockwell's work in Art News, "Rockwell is terrific. It's become too tedious to pretend he isn't".

His last painting for the Post was published in 1963, marking the end of a publishing relationship that had included 322 cover paintings. He spent the next 10 years painting for Look magazine, where his work depicted his interests in civil rights, poverty and even space exploration. During his long career, he was commissioned to paint the portraits for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, etc. One of his last works was a portrait of legendary singer Judy Garland in 1969.

A custodianship of 574 of his original paintings and drawings was established with Rockwell's help near his home in Stockbridge, Mass. The museum is still open today year round. For "vivid and affectionate portraits of our country," Rockwell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 1977, the United States of America's highest civilian honor.

Do unto others

Norman Rockwell died November 8, 1978 of emphysema at age 84 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. First Lady Rosalind Carter attended his funeral. That was how much of an impact this amazing man had on America. Why wouldn't he be my favorite artist of all time.

His work even influenced my beloved movies. Much of Forrest Gump was inspired by Rockwell's work. American Gangster, Lilo & Stitch, Funny Farm. Empire in the Sun, all have shout outs to Norman Rockwell's work. He was a truly great artist, who deserves to be recognized by all, as such.

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7 meaningful meanderings:

Michelle said...

I love Norman Rockwell!!! He is one of my favorites too. I've got copies of some of his paintings. His self portrait one is one of my favorites.

Amander said...

I enjoy Rockwell's sense of humor in his paintings.

The Boob Nazi said...

You consider yourself to be art? hahaha

Donna said...

I like this post! Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite artists too. He made American life come to life on canvas. Have you been to the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge? I went in May. It's awesome! If you haven't gone, GO!

CaJoh said...

I always like the realism that his paintings show. There is a lot of detail that you notice which makes viewing much more enjoyable.

Thank you for sharing,

Lee said...

I've always loved Norman Rockwell. His paintings were always so beautiful and detailed. They use things similar to his ALL the time nowadays. It's like a staple of the 50s and 60s.

Tori_z said...

Interesting post... Thanks for the share!

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