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  A Special  Exhibition

American Imagist

Rhode Island's First Ever
Norman Rockwell Exhibition

JUNE 6 - AUGUST 31, 2009

rockwellNorman Rockwell's heartwarming depictions of  everyday life made him the best-known and most beloved American artist of the 20th century. He lived and worked through one of the most eventful periods in the nation's history and his paintings vividly chronicled those times. His images often served as a mirror of American life, reflecting  not who we really were, so much as what we thought and felt - and what we subconsciously endeavored to become.

Norman  Rockwell:  American  Imagist exhibits a remarkable collection of selected original art spanning six decades, providing us with a comprehensive look at his career.

Rockwell was a storyteller during a time when so-called "serious" art was neither narrative nor representational. His painted  stories were folksy, humorous, and often topical, but Rockwell was more  than just a chronicler of the times. He had a genius for knowing which stories to tell, how to tell them and what details to emphasize. It has been said that a Rockwell painting does not require an explanation, a caption or even a title. It speaks to us directly.

Although Rockwell is most associated with small-town America, he was in fact born and raised in New York City. At 21, he moved to New Rochelle, New York, to be near his idol, the notable illustrator and icon-maker, J. C. Leyendecker. He set up a studio and began to sell freelance work to magazines such as: Life, Literary Digest and Country Gentleman.

In 1916, at the age of 22, Rockwell painted his first cover for the prestigious Saturday Evening Post  beginning  a  long (1916-1963)  and  fruitful  relationship.  Most  readers  immediately  recognized his covers, and responded well to the charming portraits of American life. Readers became fans and followed his covers through the Depression  years   and   World   War II.

In 1943, the entire nation joined together  when  he  created  the Four Freedoms, which toured in an exhibition raising $135 million for the war effort through the sale of war bonds.  

The Saturday Evening Post covers became Rockwell's  greatest  legacy.  Yet  he  parted   ways  with  the Saturday Evening Post in 1963 and  began  to work for Look magazine, where he had more  creative freedom. The Look illustrations included his first socially conscious work concerning civil rights, space travel  and  other issues of national concern.

Rockwell lived the last 25 years of  his  life  with  his  wife  Molly  in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. On November 8, 1978, he died in Stockbridge at the age of 84, leaving an unfinished painting on his easel. Norman Rockwell was an American Imagist, whose art captured America and ultimately the world.

Some critics have called his  art  too sentimental  to  be taken  seriously, but  the  fact  that  his  work  continues to  resonate and  find  new  audiences in the 21st century says something else. There is  a universality to his appeal, suggesting that Rockwell's real subjects were not simply "grandfathers, puppy dogs - stuff like that," as the artist once said, but something larger, if  less tangible.

This  exhibition  permits  us  to  review  selected  works in chronological order, making the stages of his career recognizable and his images more poignant. These original works give the viewer a chance to see Rockwell's accomplished technique and superb craftsmanship, which are sometimes overlooked in the more widely seen reproductions of his work.  

Norman Rockwell: American Imagist  asserts  Rockwell's  place   as  a  great  American  artist/ illustrator  and suggests that  his real and most enduring subject matter  was  capturing  The  rockwellAmerican Spirit.

This exhibition, curated by Judy Goffman Cutler and organized by Laurence S. Cutler along with the American Illustrators Gallery and the National Museum of American  Illustration,  gives us the opportunity to experience Rockwell close up and marvel at his painterly skills.

Select Paintings
From the Norman Rockwell: American Imagist exhibition

1917, oil on canvas
22" x 22", signed lower right
Country Gentleman, Dec. 22, 1917


threading needleTHREADING THE NEEDLE
1922, oil on canvas
25 1/2" x 20 1/2", signed lower right
Saturday Evening Post, April 8, 1922

1922, oil on canvas
36"x 24", signed lower right
Life, June 1, 1922 cover

1948, oil on canvas
46 1/2" x 38 1/2", signed lower left
Saturday Evening Post, May 15, 1948

1950, oil on canvas
33" x 31", unsigned
Saturday Evening Post, April 29, 1950 cover study

1964, tempera on board
11 5/8" x 19 7/8", signed lower right
Look magazine, Jan. 14, 1964 study

1966, oil on canvas
17" x 25", signed lower right
Look magazine, June14, 1966

The Museum is open year-round for visitors and group tours by advance reservation.
Tickets: $18.  Seniors (60+), and Military w/id: $16. Students w/id: $12. Children ages 5 to 12: $8. Children ages 5 to 12 are permitted, only if they are vouchsafed by parents or guardians as being 'well-behaved.'
NMAI Marble Hall Entrance Table
For Reservations/Press Contact:
Eric Brocklehurst
nmai logoNational Museum of American Illustration
492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
T: 401-851-8949 ext.18. F: 401-851-8974

The National Museum of American Illustration is a nonprofit, independent, educational and aesthetic organization. It is located in Newport, RI, on Bellevue Avenue at Vernon Court (1898), a Carrére and Hastings designed Beaux-Arts adaptation of an 18th century French chateau. It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to American illustration art. Illustration consists of original artwork created to be reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. 'Golden Age' paintings by such luminaries as Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, JC Leyendecker, and 75 others are displayed in 'Gilded Age' architecture, creating a unique union of architecture and art - a national treasure. The Museum is administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal to present the best possible venue for appreciating the greatest collection of illustration art - the most American of American art.

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