Thursday, December 2, 2010

Norman Rockwell

© 1943 SEPS
For my own benefit and perhaps for someone else’s, I wanted to know why Norman Rockwell was not even mentioned in Meggs' textbook. Drucker/McVarish did give a nod on page 242 of "Graphic Design History" with one picture "Freedom of Speech." A mere two lines in the section about Iconography and national stereotypes is all. In this small book many were only mentioned in this way or not all as Meggs is the more detailed book. But at least he was in it.

So here is my small attempt to expose others to this great "illustrator", his impact, and how he was shunned in his own time by the industry. Below are some of the most famous of his paintings along with a few of my favorites. He did many others that showed daily life of small town America and showed common experiences. If graphic design is about visual communications, he was a master at it.

At the end is featured an recent exhibit of artists of today and their version of the "Four Freedoms." Some of whom we have studied in our class.  

© 1943 SEPS
 © 1943 SEPS
 "Four Essential Human Freedoms" 1943 were painted in oil in response to President Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech in 1941. After coming up with the ideas, all the government offices turned him down. (Read more about his inspiration and story.) The paintings were first featured for four consecutive weeks on the cover of  the "The Saturday Evening Post" magazine where much of his work published and were accompanied with articles written by prominent thinkers of the day. They were than turned into advertisements for war bonds by the Office of  War Information which helped raise $133 million for the war effort. They speak to the heart of America. What we were fighting for then and what we fighting for now.
Famous rejection quote from that very same Office of War Information when he tried to get someone in Washington to use the ideas of the "Four Freedoms."

"'The last war you illustrators did the posters,’ he said. ‘This war we’re going to use fine arts men, real artists. If you want to make a contribution to the war effort you can do some of these pen-and-ink drawings for the Marine Corps calisthenics manual. But as far as your Four Freedoms go, we aren’t interested.’"

That sums up what was thought of Rockwell early on as he was considered a commercial artist that did his work solely for money but now he is an acknowledged artist and not just an illustrator. The people always knew but it took the art world time to catch up.
Norman Rockwell Licensing

"I showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."
-Norman Rockwell

I adore his Santa Claus paintings! 

  The facial expression on the boy is priceless.

Santa Claus doesn't exist

Girl in the Mirror, 1954
Abstract Concrete. This is how I felt sometimes in this class.

The Gossips 1948

Family Tree 1959

After the Prom by Norman Rockwell
After the Prom 1957

A Pictorial History of the United States Army
To Make Man Free WW2


I will do my best.

There are many more you can look at here and of course just googling.
The "Thoughts on Democracy" exhibit on the "Four Freedoms"
by contemporary artists and designers. 
The Thoughts on Democracy exhibition is comprised of posters created by sixty leading contemporary artists and designers, invited by The Wolfsonian in Florida to create a new graphic design inspired by American illustrator Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters, which were recently gifted to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder.

Four Freedoms poster by Kit Hinrichs.

Liberty Weeps by Elliott EarlsLiberty Weepsby Elliott Earls
24"x36" glicée print

Edward Fella

It is my hope that we as a country will continue to keep and fight for these ideals. Thanks for letting me share. Good luck to all in your futures.

Your Faithful Friend


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