Norman Rockwell

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When I was going for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Advertising Design at Wichita State University in the middle 1960s, the name Norman Rockwell was not a name one would speak of approvingly. The disgust came from the fine art department, but those of us on the commercial art side recognized the emotional impact, influence, and sheer mastery of his work. We were ridiculed for celebrating someone that produced narrative based work that they considered disgustingly sentimental, solely for a buck…commercial use. Of course the whole debate, as we look back now, was stupid and ridiculous; but, those were the times.

I’m sure Rockwell himself was aware of the ridicule, and it had to hurt. The 60s were a tumultuous time. Rockwell’s audience changed, his publishers changed, and Rockwell changed…along with his work.

He was never ashamed, however, to call himself an “illustrator” and he did defend the story telling aspect of his work.


“The greatest artists were also great story tellers. The pictures of Raphael, Reubens and Michelangelo, for example, are not only great paintings, but visualizations of stories that have a universal emotional appeal. The Last Supper is the most dramatic story-picture ever painted; or take Rembrandt…it was his love of humanity that made him great.” 


I continue to love Rockwell’s work. It just so much speaks to every aspect of the human condition, yet it does so in a loving, respectful, and understanding way. Whether you are familiar with Rockwell’s work or not…can’t imagine not…I think you’ll really enjoy this documentary.


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