Norman Rockwell: Americana Embodied

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If you were born any time in the twentieth century, chances are you know who Norman Rockwell was. His paintings spanned four generations of American culture and left a major thumbprint on what we now know as “Americana“.

Rockwell’s strength as a painter was his ability to tell a story that encapsulates an entire audience within one piece of art. His mastery set him apart from many artists of his day and his work for The Saturday Evening Post made both he and the newspaper pieces of American iconography. Although not necessarily noted for it, I believe his technical use of light and color in the design of his paintings is actually what sets him apart from all other artists. The mood he sets draws the viewer in and reminds them of forgone times in their own life which makes for a strong sense of nostalgia. Rockwell was a baseball bat, a slice of apple pie and a Thanksgiving turkey all rolled into one. In fact it is partly because of he that we associate these things as American icons. Norman Rockwell has always made me proud to be an American because his paintings show a portrait of America in a way that it ought to be even if perhaps it has never completely been.

 

The Four Freedoms, painted in 1943 during the height of World War II, were inspired by the 1941 State of the Union Address by United States President Franklin Roosevelt delivered to the 77th United States Congress on January 6, 1941. During the speech, FDR identified four essential human rights (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want and Freedom From Fear) that should be universally protected and served as a reminder of the American motivation for fighting in World War II. Rockwell’s interpretation of each:

 

Freedom of Speech

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Freedom of Worship

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Freedom From Want

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Freedom From Fear

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