Last weekend I went to see American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, so I thought I’d write a little bit about my experiences.
As a teenager I was a very keen collector of Coca Cola memorabilia, and it was through this that I first discovered Roackwell’s artwork. In fact, one my favourite items in my collection is a 1935 Coca Cola calendar that my Dad bought for me featuring a Rockwell painting of a boy fishing in side profile. So, having been a huge fan of his for many years, this was obviously a really exciting opportunity for me, and it really lived up to my expectations.
As his artwork is so familiar, and appears so frequently in print, I had to keep reminding myself, no, these are not printed – these are his actual paintings! I loved seeing his work for The Saturday Evening Post, particularly as so many of his covers were incredibly inventive. He was very clearly a lateral thinker, and I love that! I try to think very laterally myself when I’m presented with an art/design related challenge. They did have some examples of his work in print too, which I also had a huge appreciation for, as I love historic printed ephemera. The fact that they had all 323 tear sheets from The Saturday Evening Post, ranging from 1916 through to the 1960s was fantastic. It really showed the subtle evolution of his style throughout the decades, and also the changes in fashion, culture, and style.
Another highlight for me personally was to see that Rockwell was a huge fan of Walt Disney, and dedicated the artwork for one of his Saturday Evening Post covers (specifically, Girl Reading the Post, from 1941) to him, and that Disney had it hanging on the wall in his office for many years.
All in all, it was a fantastic exhibition. As much as I would have loved to have seen some of his Coca Cola advertisements featured for old time’s sake, thats a minor point, and overall I think I would even go so far as to say that I actually left there an even bigger fan of his than I had been when I entered.