“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. Among Rockwell’s most memorable renditions of Americana is his much-loved Four Freedoms series of patriotic paintings symbolizing President Roosevelt’s wartime aims: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. This contribution to the war effort, published in four consecutive issues of the Saturday Evening Post, raised nearly $140 million in war bonds. Norman Rockwell, opening at Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) on Sunday, September 20, 2009 and remaining on view through Sunday, January 3, 2010.
The exhibition is organized by American Illustrators Gallery, New York City and The National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, Rhode Island. 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 with support from Wachovia Bank and Wells Fargo and Company.
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 was later hired to be 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 created his greatest legacy.
Nassau County Museum of Art
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Nassau County Museum of Art is chartered and accredited under the laws of New York State as a not-for-profit private educational institution and museum. It is operated by a privately elected board of trustees which is responsible for its governance. The museum is funded through income derived from admissions, parking, membership, special events and private and corporate donations as well as federal and state grants.
Image: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Runaway. The Runaway Boy and Clown, 1922, oil on canvas, 36” x 24”, signed lower right Life magazine cover, June 1, 1922 LNM # C119 © 2009 National Museum of American Illustration™ Newport RI www.AmericanIllustration.org Photos courtesy Archives of American Illustrators Gallery™ NYC