Happy birthday to all-American illustrator and artist Norman Rockwell (3 February 1894–8 November 1978), above in a photograph from around 1945 (photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images).
I imagine The Saturday Evening Postowed its continued existence to the cover art that Rockwell created for them over four decades, art that seemed to evoke the America many people wished us to be. That’s no slam—I LOVE Norman Rockwell, and have gone to the Norman Rockwell Museum up in the Berkshires more than once. His distinctive stencil-y signature and his uniquely, gawkily American characters strike the same chord in me as a Frank Capra film does—a nostalgia for a time and place that never quite existed.
But Rockwell was also aware of exactly what kind of world we DID live in, and he could make a statement about that, as well, as in this painting of Ruby Bridges being escorted by US Marshalls to her first day of school in a newly-integrated Little Rock:
Norman Rockwell, Boy reading an adventure story
(One of the best feelings in the world… I’m just going to finish this paragraph…Page… Well, only two pages until I finish the chapter… Just to see how the next one begins…No way!… *continues reading*)
1419 × 1950
Norman Rockwell for life.
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