Much ink has been spilled here on The WallBreakers about Norman Rockwell. I’ve always felt that Rockwell beautifully captured an idealistic version of Americana in his paintings. We could absolutely argue that because he wasn’t allowed to paint African Americans until his later years his version of Americana is mostly skewed. I try to put Rockwell’s pre-1963 work in historical context based on who was commissioning him—The Saturday Evening Post—which only allowed white Americans to be depicted in their art in non-subjugational ways. After 1963, when Rockwell painted for Look Magazine, he was free to paint the kind of material that spoke to the social events of the day.
Rockwell was a master at using brush stroke, light, and color to communicate emotion. I remember visiting an exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum in which Rockwell’s work was featured. To see a Rockwell in person is to see a masterpiece. Another Rockwell strength was his ability to tell a fluent, emotional story within one piece of art. It’s almost as though he was a nostalgia theorist, able to pull the viewer in and remind them of forgone times in their own life.
How do you feel about Norman Rockwell as an artist? I find that his style is one that’s hard to pinpoint. What movement did he truly belong to? He painted through several movements. Cubism, Art Deco, The De Stijl movement, Futurism, Expressionism, Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism are just a few of them. Perhaps Rockwell would classify himself as an American Realist painter, influenced by artists and peers like George Bellows, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and Edward Hopper. Would you agree?
Take a look at sixty iconic Rockwell Saturday Evening Post covers. They cover a diverse group of subjects, and a diverse time range. Enjoy some of his wonderful covers below, broken down by month.