Friday, February 5, 2010

Rockwell's "Gossip"..

I'm a huge Norman Rockwell fan. I stumbled on this gem the other day, and quickly remembered it when I was a kid, flipping through the pages my parents big ol' coffee table book of Rockwell's paintings. But this time, as though I've never noticed it before, I related this piece to animation. It must be the most animated painting he ever did! And, in wonderful Rockwell style, it's completely character driven, leading the viewer on this trip from person to person, and ending up right back at the original girl, the source of the gossip. Pure gold.

Rockwell represents for me, a purity in characterization and an excellence in technical skill. Just like Leyendecker, I love to study the poses, facial expressions, compositions, and virtually everything else about his work. I feel Leyendecker had more of an older school elegance and edge to his paintings, capturing a maturity that Rockwell didn't seem all that interested in portraying. (below: Leyendeckers study)His paintings are also is representative of an interesting time in American history, filled with amazing idealism as well as ludicrous hypocrisy, intriguing contrasts, politics, controversy.. illustrating a to a key, an idealized human spirit. btw.. for some reason I always get crap for praising Rockwell.. let's see.


  1. patrick, here we go again with your rockwell obsession. you know he used photos right?

  2. I remember this one. Haven't thought about it in a long time, thanks for posting it. I think more animators should look at Rockwell, and classic illustration in general.

  3. It's not that Rockwell isn't great, it's your uncritical praise.

    His "excellence in technical skill" is a side effect of his medium -magazine illustration. Working oversize is the greatest example, his brushwork on his originals is also telling.

    Yes, he was great. But when you exalt his draughting expertise in comparison to Leyendecker's, you see Rockwell fall flat.

    He's represents an era when illustration was taken seriously. The end of that era, actually. So much so that when one calls him a great illustrator, others now take it as a slight.

  4. of course i'm going to give uncritical praise to an artist i look to for inspiration, and study.. i mean.. It's difficult for me to talk about rockwell without mentioning leyendecker, and vice versa.. and i think it's obvious that leyendecker possessed a superiority (age and skill and social graces).. but they are relevant to each other in the context of their work.

    The Leyendecker book by Laurence and Judy Cutler portrays Norman Rockwell as a "weasel who pumped Leyendecker for information on contacts and clients" and stole jobs from him. Rockwell was the intensely competitive younger artist who followed his idol around, imitated his every move, and even moved to the same town to be near him.

    even after reading that book though, i'm still a rockwell fan.. can't help it.. his paintings are great!

  5. Don't get me wrong, I'm a "fan" of Rockwell too.

    But I feel we learn from criticism as much, if not more, as we learn adulation.

    His work doesn't hold up -for me- as good painting. The brushwork isn't there, the lighting is flat, the detailing minimal.

    I guess that's what I find objectionable. He's not a great painter. He is what he is: a great illustrator. If you want to say a great "artist", fine.

  6. Hmmm...makes me wonder how you feel about Maxfield Parrish's work?

  7. love maxfield parrish! great painter don't you think? i'm not really crazy about the neoclassical subject matter, but beautiful works nonetheless.

  8. Oh his work.I'm probably more a fan of his nursery rhyme/fairy tale imagery...whether it be for Collier's or an advertisement. Great sense of lighting.

    Apparently, Rockwell admired him and they corresponded (not sure to what extent). Historians??