Monday, 28 March 2011

Norman Rockwell - Dulwich Picture Gallery

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon I decided it was finally time to head down to Dulwich to check out Norman Rockwell's exhibition 'Norman Rockwell's America'.  This exhibition ran for 3-months and as is my custom, I waited till the last day to see it.

Not know much about Rockwell except for his iconic status in Americana art, I was interested to see how this artist, who has influenced so many, resonated in a gallery.

According to the gallery:

Norman Rockwell’s heart warming 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. Norman Rockwell’s America exhibits a remarkable collection of selected original art spanning his six decade career.

This exhibition will be the first of his original works in this country. It will include all 323
Saturday Evening Post covers created between 1916 and 1963, along with illustrations for advertisements, magazines and books – providing a comprehensive look at his career.

As you can tell from the description, the exhibition was staggering in it's scope, covering amost 50 years of Rockwell's work.  While the Saturday Evening Post covers were an interesting look into a different century, what really captured the imagination were all the original works.
Having never seen his work in person before I was blown away by the level of detail, and how he so clearly identified feelings of expression in his subjects.  He also was quite clever at multiple painting styles both imitating the old masters, and crafting his own techniques.

Rockwell is considered an artist who defined America.  I think what this exhibition shows is how much an invention Americana truly is.  It really was Rockwell in the 30s and 40s who captured the qualities, and really definied, what it is to be an American.  

It's interesting, as an American living abroad, looking at these images and imagining a time when America was seen as a country on the rise, with ideals and a government to envy, not fear.

Really loved the lighting on this one

Some of the Saturday Evening Post covers

The level of detail was exceptional.  I loved the lone tooth on the right of his mouth.

The way this was painted was fascinating, the view point is so unique.

The travelling salesmen.  Depicted as a lonely figure rather than a rogue traveller.

April fools day painting.  There were over 60 jokes in this one.  You can see a few here like the cat with a dogs head, the girl holding the skunk in the background, and many more.

Love this picture of Russian schoolchildren.  With the boy in the back row looking out the window.

Great picture depicting a worker and the bourgeois art he ignores.

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