Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rockwell's War News...

Most people that know me know that I'm a huge Rockwell fan, so this post is not a shocker.  I was reading the news the other day (something that I really don't enjoy, and often think it's a complete waste of time) and I thought of "War News".. always fitting in these times of seemingly endless conflict..This has got to be one of my favorite quotes:

“May God deliver us from the worst of all sins: Man's own religious hypocritical self-righteousness, evil knowledge, and greed for power through every form of cruelty, including war!”  -Norman Rockwell

Despite the hostel reception to my past praise of Norman Rockwell, I wanted to share with you a painting that exemplifies Rockwells skill and social insight.  "War News" was completed in 1945, but never published.  Critics often dismiss Rockwell paintings as "Simplified unmercifully and reassured inappropriately", but I see him as a master that captured a great era with great skill, perhaps idealistically, but I think that makes his work even more important in this age of cynisym and elitism (especially within the art world, excuse my generalization).

This piece is wonderfullly constructed and composed. Through expert characterization Rockwell captured an apprehension and severe concern in the figures. I appreciate this work even more so as an animator, i almost see them as actors within a story. As far as content ... it's dead on. we've all experienced that severe concern to war news. In this same year Rockwell painted other great pieces like "Thanksgiving: Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes" and "The Homecoming".  For the cynics, it's interesting to point out that Rockwells "Four Freedoms" was viewed by 1.2 million people, and raised over 135 million dollars in war bonds. If this isn't an example of how art is an integral part of the world, I don't know what is. It's great that the humble master felt he "held a low rung" on the ladder of fine art. He considered Pablo Picasso the greatest, going so far as to add a bit of cubism into several of his paintings. He also held Mondrian in the highest regard.


  1. I can't believe you've had a hostile response to offering praise for Rockwell. You don't have to like his work to appreciate the skill, quality and heart that went into it. Rockwell painted at a time before we all became cynical and so, like Frank Capra, another great artist of the time, he can occasionally soak in a little too much sentiment for modern tastes but that doesn't detract from his artistry. I for one appreciate your thoughts on Rockwell.

  2. great post patrick, did you happen to get a chance to visit the "norman rockwell: behind the camera" exhibit at the brooklyn museum this past winter? it presented all of his paintings + illustrations as well as the photographs he used as a tool for his artwork.