Friday, 11 September 2009 00:00
“Even the most brittle cynics melt in the presence of all that wholesomeness.”
—Robert A.M. Stern, architect of the Rockwell Museum
“I paint life as I would like it to be,” said the great illustrator Norman Rockwell.
Seeing himself as a storyteller, Rockwell created the images that defined America and Americans, in this country and abroad. His enormous impact was achieved through the 321 covers he created for Saturday Evening Post from 1916 to 1963, including his famous Four Freedoms series of patriotic wartime paintings.
Norman Rockwell, opening at Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) on Sunday, Sept. 20 and remaining on view through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, is organized by American Illustrators Gallery, New York City and The National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, RI.
The exhibition is curated for NCMA by Constance Schwartz and Franklin Hill Perrell and includes approximately 300 Saturday Evening Post covers and about 48 Rockwell paintings. The exhibition is sponsored by Sterling Glen Senior Living and David Lerner Associates with support from Wachovia Bank and Wells Fargo and Company, the New York State Council on the Arts and from Arizona Beverages.
A poet of the American heartland, Norman Rockwell was born 115 years ago in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He demonstrated drawing talent from his earliest years, sketching as literary works were read to him aloud.
While in high school, he studied at the Chase School of Fine and Applied Art. Leaving school before graduation, he went on to attend the National Academy of Design, later transferring to the Art Students League. His earliest commission, at the age of 16, was for Christmas cards. He was then retained to illustrate a series of children’s books.
Rockwell later became the art director for Boy’s Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. His association with the Boy Scouts was to continue for a half century. Rockwell began freelancing his services to magazines, among them Life, Literary Digest and Country Digest.
At 22, he began his legendary association with The Saturday Evening Post, the most prestigious magazine of that era. Rockwell’s first work for the Post was Mother’s Day Off, which ran on the May 20, 1916 cover. From then, until 1963, he went on to produce 321 Post covers. It was these illustrations that came to be his greatest legacy.
In conjunction with the showing of Norman Rockwell, NCMA is sponsoring several public programs to illuminate and enhance the experience of viewing the exhibition. For information about the events or to register, call 484-9338, ext. 12 or log onto nassaumuseum.org.