Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Happy Birthday to an Artist ....

Norman Percevel Rockwell, a 20th-century American artist whose works were embraced as icons of American life and ideals, was born on this day in 1894.

It's true, Rockwell's work was dismissed by a number of critics and artists of his day. One large body of his work — illustrations for magazine covers that presented idealistic or sentimental portrayals of American life — were targets-of-choice, labeled as bourgeois kitsch, disconnected from reality, and even "Rockwellesque." Some of his critics sneeringly called him an "illustrator" instead of an artist ... which was fine, really, because that's what Rockwell called himself.

But in the larger, more widespread and popular circles, Rockwell was appreciated to the point of reverence. His many, many images of Boy Scouting were held in high regard by my mom, a woman who has served nearly half-a-century as a Scouter. His images have been recreated in every medium there is, and originals of his works are much-sought-after (there's one in Midland's Museum of the Southwest, I think). And over the course of his career, Rockwell was commissioned to paint the portraits for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Me? I like his works. Here is a video prepared by the Normman Rockwell Museum, featuring interviews with models, friends and family members, and artists Minor) influenced by Rockwell.

Good online sources about Rockwell include his
Wikipedia write-up, his official website and the museum he established in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

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