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Sunday, January 5. 2014
For one thing, he did paint "an America that was." I lived it, it was my growing-up world. Not everybody's, but mine for sure in New England. Church, barber shop, the town drunk, the town meeting, teasing the girls, backyard baseball, the classrooms, all of it. Call it fine art, pop-art, illustration, whatever. Was Watteau a "fine artist" or an interior decorator? I'd say the latter. Picasso? No and yes.
Rockwell documented the small, mundane moments of ordinary life. His pictures are great fun to look at in the same way that Breughel's are. Paint can accomplish much more than a camera ever can, but it's all either for religious or secular entertainment.
The Rockwell Museum is in Stockbridge, MA, if you are ever passing through there. Same town as Alice's Restaurant.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:47 | Comments (19) | Trackbacks (0)
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I was raised in the '50s and Rockwell's pictures rang true for me. There was nothing about them that seemed out of place and they all could have been from a photograph taken in the late '40s or early '50s. Those who poo poo Rockwell's depiction of life during that period either never lived during that period and/or is trying to discount a time when it was a simpler and more innocent time. It was (save for the institutional racism of the Demoncrats) a wonderful time to grow up.
Funny that you mention Breughel. I remember one of my books in junior high had a cover with his Peasant Wedding Dance painting on it. Of course the "excitement" displayed by the men in the dance was cropped out!
They don't want to admit that such a thing could have existed, because they don't wont to admit that the past was in any way superior to the present. They don't want the rap for having destroyed, carelessly or intentional, something that was good.
Indeed, if you have the time and you are in the Berkshires do hit the Norman Rockwell Museum [url] http://www.nrm.org/ [/url], Chesterwood [url][http://chesterwood.org/][/url] and the Clark [url][http://www.clarkart.edu/][/url]. Well worth it.
Smiling peasants with their arms cradled around sheaves of wheat, gazing resolutely at the horizon, were considered more realistic subjects in the postwar art world, apparently. At least, I never heard anyone in the arts disparage those, as they did Rockwell.
I lived the Rockwell America as well. For most of my life and I am deeply grateful.
Me too, Gerard, and going to his museum - and for that matter, his studio - in the western part of this commonwealth feels very much like going home.
When I lived in Boston's Back Bay I never went to the USS Constitution, until I moved to the south shore and my wife wanted to see it.
I've never been to that museum, guess I have been waiting to move out of state first. Maybe I'll head out there this winter as long as the rivers and bays are frozen.
But I'm NEVER going to see the Bunker Hill Monument! (local joke)
I have gone, because I'm from NH. But I've never been to Strawbery Banke, though. That's for tourists.
Wow, this author makes a living at this sort of character destruction? Must be miserable having to spend one's life tearing down all that is real and meaningful, having to appear superior to those which you are most certainly inferior to, and of course it is tres risque knocking down the pillars which hold up the very roof that has protected her while she cultivated her smug talent.
Trip, Mz. Hand, hard-boiled tripe.
Well, I'll be! So my boyhood in the Ligonier Valley was all a dream? Something that never was. The barber shop. The doctor's office. The diner, the school, the teachers and merchants and cops I looked up to, all "Fig Newtons" of my imagination! I still remember running up to the post office on the hill to get The Saturday Evening Post each week. I remember devouring the stories and the cartoons and I remember the smiles of recognition when I looked at those Rockwell covers.
It was the same for me in Carlisle just a few valleys over. My sister and I would ride along in the back seat as my grandfather the MD, made house calls all through Cumberland County back in the 60s. What Rockwell drew was what I grew up with there and other parts of America.
I always liked his paintings and have nothing but contempt for those who ridicule them.
Had he been a jazz musician, he would have been widely and roundly derided for having "sold out", for being so popular and accessible.
Lived it in the 1940's and 1950's. It was all over by 1970. I am still, rather WE are still trying to live in that manner--most of us old Montana folks and even those who come here escaping from WA state, or CA. Some--not all--come looking for Rockwell's America. What they don't seem to understand is that they bring the "other way of being" with them. It's hard to give up those bad habits, ways of being they acquired in places such as WA. The me first-I'll get mine first attitude. "Everyone does it" is not an excuse for corruption, but they don't seem to understand why that is so.
I am old enough to have seen most of the 1950's through the eyes of a child. Rockwell captured a lot of what I vividly remember of the small town where I was born and raised. Modulo the technical trappings of today, for which I have had a small part in fostering, it was a better time then.
Me, too. I grew up in or around a very small [300+] town in Western Illinois in the late 40s and 50s. Just about every Rockwell painting I've ever seen looked pretty familiar. We even had snow like those in New England, and the river bluffs give a similar impression to some of the terrain.
He is crime is being guilty of liking ordinary America and ordinary Americans.
I think the problem is that "small-town America" is what seems to be dying...how many small towns do you know about / heard about, that are thriving?
Rockwell has always been sneered at by the intelligentsia and the academics. When I studied painting in college back in the late 1960s, examples of how not to paint included Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. "Little more than illustrators" was the smug dismissal of so many important American artists at that time. Novelty was everything. I learned nothing but hard edged painting and abstraction, and I was guilty of sharing these oh so knowing views for at least a decade hence. That is, until I returned to realism in my painting, and I took a huge hit from my peers at first in doing this. I began careful study of the works of such painters as Rockwell, and Wyeth was living fairly near me at the time. Subject matter aside, Rockwell's compositions are stupendous and classical upon analysis. His technique is deft and immaculate. All good art comes from a longing of some sort and a need to create order. Rockwell's reputation will survive this nonsense.
Recall the Rockwell painting of a museum goer looking at an abstract painting. Rockwell was telling us he could paint abstract stuff, but chose not to.
I wonder if one of the reasons the 'art community' looked down on Rockwell's work was because the common people could understand it?
From my (uneducated in art) POV, he was the most talented artist of the 20th century.