Monday, February 07, 2011

Rockwell's America



A scene that looks like Norman Rockwell's America reminds me of Mr. Rockwell's life. His paintings were delightfully cheerful. They depicted a hopeful place, even when dealing with racism. And yet his personal life was anything but ideal. His first marriage ended in divorce, back in 1930 when divorce was rare. His family moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, not for the quaint scenery, but so that they could be near the psychiatric hospital where his wife was treated. He himself received psychiatric care. His second wife died unexpectedly when he was in his mid-60's. He then married a third time.

Amid all of this pain, he brought much joy to others with his thousands of painting.

Was he a phony? In a sense we're all phonies, but I prefer thinking that he chose to emphasize the joy, not the sadness; that the happy places and people he painted helped him cope with the sadness around him.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
--Philippians 4:8

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13 comments:

Tess Kincaid said...

My dear Columbus Museum of Art has two Rockwells, as part of their permanent collection. I am always amazed at how thickly he applied the paint. Really crusty, and you wouldn't guess from seeing his work in print form. I love his positive legacy.

dfish said...

He painted what life really was about, while still making it clear that even the bad was not unbearable. As such, he was less phony than those who spend all their time trying to picture it as an ideal, or those who picture it as horrible.

Kristen Haskell said...

When I belonged to the San Diego Museum of Art I got two tickets to see his collection. I always a fan of his, will love his work my whole life time.

Girl in My Own World said...

Wow, I never knew this about him and to think that we often time reference Norman Rockwell in saracasm to what our live are not. It is good that he focused on the positive and found a happy place in painting! I find that creative people can sometimes be the saddest. Great Maggie! I learned a lot! :o)

Trulyfool said...

Jim,

I know Rockwell was dismissed as being too sentimentally nostalgic, but I always liked his stuff.

Trulyfool

Lyn said...

How wonderful that he possessed such a great soul, such a true spark of creativity..overcoming and moving on...
Thanks so much for this presentation

Lena said...

I think art is a form of release for most of us. Thanks for the brush up on this particular artist. His painting are wonderful, I've just been looking. And thanks for the reminder.

Kathe W. said...

nothing wrong with looking at the positives- matter of fact- I think it's quite healthy.

Jim Swindle said...

Tess, I've never seen one of his originals. I wouldn't have expected it to be crusty.
dfish, you're right. If we ignore either life's blessings or sin and life's grief, we're missing the truth.
Kristen Haskell and Trulyfool and Lena, I like his art a lot, even though most of it doesn't pretend to be great art.
Girl in My Own World, I, too was really surprised when I learned a bit about him.
Lyn and Kathe W, a generally positive outlook is often a great blessing, yet mere positive thinking can be a dangerous trap if we think it's the answer for everything.
THANK YOU, each one, for commenting.

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Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Those are the details of a man's life, what you've written about him. Those are the visibles. But much invisible was also there, else he could not have painted as he did.

Only the Bible is the most honest book in the universe, the only book that tells us the whole truth, visible and invisible, about a man, about all men, about ourselves.

Our lives are passages in that Book, and those whose hearts live there can read the chapters written in the lives of every man, while they wait for Him who alone can undo the seven seals and make all that is invisible in us visible again.

Jim Swindle said...

Momz, welcome.
Romanós, you're right, as usual.

Helen said...

I learned so much about Norman Rockwell from this post ... I have been a fan for what seems like my entire life. (almost seventy years of life)
Thank you.