When people think of Norman Rockwell, it is normally an idealized painting on the cover of a Saturday Evening Post. I am sure we all have our favorites… I of course have too many to count.
What you might not realize is that the Wichita Art Museum (WAM) is showing an exhibit of Rockwell’s work from March 7 – May 30, some very well known pieces and some different pieces, all of which span over 40 years. Yes, the Saturday Evening Posts, Boys Journal and other magazines all used his art, but Rockwell also did more abstract illustrations. For example, he depicted an illustration of Murders in Mississippi; reflecting on civil rights and the KluKlux Klan. Many of the notes from this project are on exhibit as well, helping to break down the artist’s process. Being a commercial artist Rockwell tended to be controversial and looked down upon by artists and illustrators. Even though his paintings are highly detailed and many have an underlying message, at times political. Still many of his works caught childhood innocence, a snap shot that tells a story like the “day in the life of a girl.”
I read many interesting facts regarding his models: Rockwell worked from photography late in his career. In the beginning his models would have to stand for hours held in place with ropes and pulleys or kept balanced by stacks of books. Many of his models were not professional and many were children (paid by time with a pile of coins.)
The exhibit is well worth your time even if you are not an artist. WAM is free on Saturdays!