American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell
March 2, 2012 to May 20, 2012
For the first time ever an exhibition of the work of Norman Rockwell is coming to Canada—and it’s coming to the WAG! One of the most popular North American artists of the past century, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a keen observer of human nature and a gifted storyteller. For nearly seven decades, Rockwell chronicled our changing society in the small details and nuanced scenes of ordinary people in everyday life, providing a personalized interpretation—often an idealized one—of North American identity. His depictions offered a reassuring visual haven during a time of momentous transformation as North America evolved into a complex, modern society. In addition to 42 major paintings by the artist depicting good times and bad, quaint pastimes and charged current events, the exhibition includes archival material, photographs, and complete set of 323 tear sheets from The Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell’s contributions to our visual legacy, many of them now icons of North American culture, have found a permanent place in our psyche. Representing the exhibition’s only Canadian venue, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is partnering with the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to bring a major exhibition of this defining artist to Canada for the first time.
Norman Rockwell found success early, being commissioned to design four Christmas cards before his sixteenth birthday. In 1916 the 22-year-old painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine he considered to be “the greatest show window in America.” Over the next 47 years, Rockwell’s art appeared on the cover of The Post 323 times. Although often seen as a painter of idealized North American family life, Rockwell also chronicled the darker side. His Four Freedoms paintings, inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1943, toured the United States in an exhibition sponsored by The Saturday Evening Post and the U.S. Treasury Department and, through the sale of war bonds, raised more than $130 million for the war effort. Murder in Mississippi is a haunting depiction of the murder of civil rights workers in 1965. The Problem We All Live With dealt with the issue of school racial integration, depicting a young African American girl, Ruby Bridges, flanked by white federal marshals, walking to school past a wall defaced by racist graffiti.
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell is organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Masterpieces Program.
Click here for a video Leif Norman shot and edited for The WAG