The Frist Center Presents Norman Rockwell Retrospective
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell Opens November 1, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 9, 2013)—American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, an exhibition organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts will be on view in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts‘ Upper-Level Galleries from November 1, 2013 through February 9, 2014. During this holiday season, visitors will have the opportunity to examine the legendary American illustrator‘s working process and career through his oil paintings, iconic Saturday Evening Post covers, posters, photographs and correspondence.
Representing fifty-six years of the artist‘s career, the works in this exhibition span from folk heroes and frontiersmen to the turbulent events of the 1960s. A reporter at heart, Rockwell told visual stories with meticulous detail and went to great lengths to achieve precision in his studio. However, he is equally recognized for his trademark idealistic tint, affection and humor. "Rockwell‘s paintings are infused with a sense of nostalgia," says Frist Center Curator Trinita Kennedy. "In truth, his work looked back to a simpler time that never was."
Commenting on the popularity and broad appeal of Rockwell‘s body of work, Ms. Kennedy says, ―Although Rockwell was from New York City, he focused on small town life. For baby boomers, he was there chronicling all of the important events such as JFK‘s presidential campaign and the civil rights movement, along with summer vacation and the holidays. He shaped a generation‘s perception of itself.‖
As periodicals and books were the primary source of information and entertainment in the first half of the 20th century, Rockwell assumed a crucial role in creating and reflecting public opinion. The Saturday Evening Post was one of the first publications to reach a million subscribers and continued to hold significant influence into the 1960s. Considering the trajectory of illustration as a medium of communication, Rockwell‘s career arc was perfectly timed.
The chronological and thematic organization of the exhibition tells the story of Rockwell‘s career development, and in turn, mirrors the country‘s own transformation into a complex modern society during the 20 century. Guests will be able to revisit Rockwell‘s familiar depictions of carefree, idyllic childhood for Boys’ Life as well as the complications of early adolescence as displayed in works such as Girl at Mirror (1954) and The Discovery (1956) in a broader context. In the 1960s, however, Rockwell developed a more reportorial style while covering social issues such as race relations and poverty for Look magazine. ―At The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell worked under certain editorial restrictions,‖ explains Ms. Kennedy. ―For example, he could only depict people of color in positions of service. At Look, a harder-hitting publication, he was searching for greater freedom and new challenges, which is interesting at that later stage in his life and career.‖
Rockwell‘s first assignment for Look—the now iconic story illustration The Problem We All Live With (1964)—captures six-year-old African American Ruby Bridges, accompanied by four U.S. marshals, en route to her first day at an all-white school in New Orleans. The event continues to resonate as a seminal moment in the civil rights era; Bridges will be interviewed by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the new six-episode PBS documentary on African American history, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross premiering on Nashville Public Television and PBS stations nationwide on October 22. Undeterred by criticism he received from readers for his choice of subject matter, Rockwell went on to paint Murder in Mississippi (1965), which illustrated the slaying of civil right workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell will be shown concurrently at the Frist Center with 30 Americans, an exhibition of works by leading contemporary African American artists and organized by the Rubell Family Collection in Miami. Frist Center Curator Katie Delmez recalls a planning meeting about the seemingly disparate shows:
―We knew immediately this scheduling actually provided a wonderful opportunity to have a larger conversation about what it means to be an American. Who and what defines that notion? Can there be multiple definitions? Is one more authentic than the other? How is this translated visually? Indeed, the artists in 30 Americans are asserting that their experiences are every bit as American‘ as Rockwell‘s images of Thanksgiving and that they also need to be included in the full picture of American history.‖
About Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell, born in New York City in 1894, discovered his artistic gifts early in life. Driven by his calling, he pursued his artistic studies at the National Academy of Design and then at the Art Students League of New York. Upon graduating, he was hired as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America and also began a successful freelance career contributing to a variety of youth publications.
In New Rochelle, New York, Rockwell established a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe and contributed illustrations for magazines such as Life, Literary Digest, and Country Gentleman. In 1916, the 22-year-old Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post. Over the next 47 years, he would contribute another 321 covers. Also in 1916, Rockwell married Irene O‘Connor; they divorced in 1930. He married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, in 1930 and the couple had three sons, Jarvis, Thomas, and Peter. The family relocated to Arlington, Vermont in 1939.
The 1930s and 1940s are widely considered Rockwell‘s most prolific period. In 1943, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt‘s address to Congress, Rockwell painted the enormously popular The Four Freedoms, which were published in The Saturday Evening Post with essays by contemporary writers. The works toured the United States and, through the sale of war bonds, raised more than $130 million for the war effort.
In 1953, the Rockwell family moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. His wife Mary Barstow Rockwell died unexpectedly six years later. In collaboration with his son Thomas, Rockwell published his autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, in 1960. Rockwell married Molly Punderson, a retired teacher, in 1961. In 1963, Rockwell ended his association with The Saturday Evening Post and began contributing to Look.
In 1977, Rockwell received the nation‘s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. One year later, on November 8, 1978 Rockwell died in his home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
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American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
This exhibition is made possible with the generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Masterpieces Program; the Henry Luce Foundation; Curtis Publishing Co.; Norman Rockwell Family Agency; and the Stockman Family Foundation.
Presenting Sponsors: Anne and Joe Russell
Supporting Sponsor: Christie‘s
Hospitality Sponsor: Union Station Hotel
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts gratefully acknowledges our Picasso Circle Members as Exhibition Patrons.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Related Public Programs
Friday, November 1
Curator‟s Perspective: “Norman Rockwell Paints America” Presented by Thomas Daly, curator of education, Norman Rockwell
Frist Center Auditorium
Gallery admission required; members free Museum
Seating is first come, first seated
Thomas Daly is the Curator of Education for The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge. In this engaging lecture, Daly discusses Rockwell‘s fifty-six year career and invites visitors to compare their own twentieth-century American experience with the events portrayed by Rockwell and consider how much Rockwell‘s vision may have influenced their own.
Tuesday, November 5 Lecture Series: “Food for Thought:
11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Visualizing America through the Art of
Lunch begins at 11:30 p.m. Norman Rockwell and 30
with lecture to follow at noon. African American Artists”
Frist Center Auditorium
Free with advance registration; lunch and gallery admission included. To register, call 615.322.8585 beginning Tuesday, October, 15.
In partnership with Vanderbilt University‘s Office of Community, Neighborhood, and Government Relations, ―Food for Thought: Visualizing America through the Art of Norman Rockwell and 30 African American Artists,‖ is a three-part lecture series presented by Vanderbilt professors that explores issues surrounding what it means to be an American today. This series provides the community at large with an opportunity to build challenging intellectual connections to the exhibitions 30 Americans and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. In this first lecture of the series, panelists discuss the U.S. civil rights movement and how historical events have shaped visual, as well as, social culture. The next lectures take place on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, and Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
Thursday, November 7 Curator‟s Tour: American Chronicles: The Art
12:00 p.m. of Norman Rockwell Presented by Trinita
Meet at exhibition entrance Kennedy, curator
Gallery admission required; members free
Join Frist Center Curator Trinita Kennedy on a tour of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell as she traces the art and iconography of the great American illustrator throughout his long career.
Saturday, November 9* Studio Workshop: “Capture Gesture: Basic
1:00–4:00 p.m. Figure Drawing”
Frist Center, Studio C
$25 for members/$30 for non-members; cost includes all supplies.
Advance registration required; call 615.744.3355 before Friday, November 1.
This workshop teaches beginners and intermediate learners over the age of 18 various techniques to enhance their figure drawing skills by focusing on Norman Rockwell‘s illustrations. Participants visit the exhibition American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell to learn about and reflect on Rockwell‘s approach to rendering the human figure. After, participants head back to the studios and draw from live models doing poses based on selected Norman Rockwell artworks. Teaching Artist: Shaun Giles, educator for community engagement, Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
*This event repeats on Saturday, December 7, 1:00–4:00 p.m. Advance registration required; call 615.744.3355 before Monday, December 2.
Thursday, November 14 OR Educator Workshop: “„What does it m mean to
Saturday, November 16 be an American?‟ The Art of 30 Americans
9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. and Norman Rockwell”
Frist Center Studios
$20 for Frist Center members/$25 for non-members. Cost includes all materials, teacher resources, color reproductions, gallery admission, parking validation in Frist Center lots, and lunch.
Advanced registration is required. Download the teacher workshop registration form at http://fristcenter.org/learn/schools-educators/educator-workshops. Completed registration forms and payment are due on or before Thursday, October 24.
Investigate varied perspectives on American identity presented in the exhibitions 30 Americans and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. Participants confront the themes of 30 Americans, which focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture, while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations. In addition, participants learn about the emotionally appealing, idealized scenes of early twentieth-century American life by Norman Rockwell. Teachers can explore the themes of identity, power, and society through the lenses of these two exhibitions and examine ways to shape a discussion around the question, ―What does it mean to be an American?‖ Frist Center educator workshops are open to educators of all subjects, pre-K–12.
Sunday, November 17 Free Family Festival Day at the Frist
Enjoy a day of discovery and creativity, filled with art activities, live music, and exciting programs. Bring your family and friends to share in a day filled with art and imagination! Exhibitions highlighted during this free family event include 30 Americans, Ana Maria Tavares: Deviating Utopias, and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. See our website, www.fristcenter.org, for a detailed schedule.
Tuesday, December 3 Lecture Series: “Food for Thought: 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Visualizing America through the Art of Lunch begins at 11:30 p.m. Norman Rockwell and 30 with lecture to follow at noon. African American Artists” Frist Center Auditorium Free with advance registration; lunch and gallery admission included. To register, call 615.322.8585 beginning Tuesday, November 12.
In partnership with Vanderbilt University‘s Office of Community, Neighborhood, and Government Relations, ―Food for Thought: Visualizing America through the Art of Norman Rockwell and 30 African American Artists,‖ is a three-part lecture series presented by Vanderbilt professors that explores issues surrounding what it means to be an American today. This series provides the community at large with an opportunity to build challenging intellectual connections to the exhibitions 30 Americans and American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. In this second lecture of the series, panelists discuss the rise of marketing and advertising and their influence on American art. The third lecture takes place on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
Friday, December 6* ARTini: American Chronicles: The Art of 7:00 p.m. Norman Rockwell Meet at exhibition entrance Gallery admission required; members free
Are you curious about art? Do you want to learn more about the content and concepts behind an artist‘s work? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the ARTini program is for you! ARTinis are designed for everyone—from the novice to the connoisseur—and include informal and insightful conversations that offer a deeper understanding of one or two works of art in an exhibition.
Join Megan Robertson, associate curator of interpretation at the Frist Center, as she examines Norman Rockwell‘s working process and his ability to convey a narrative in a single image.
*This event repeats on Tuesday, December 10, 12:00 p.m.
Friday, December 13 Family Film: Ruby Bridges 7:00 p.m. Frist Center Auditorium Gallery admission required; members free Seating is first come, first seated
This film, set in 1960, tells the courageous story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old African American girl who helped to integrate the all-white schools of New Orleans. Ruby faces crowds of angry white citizens every day on her walk into school. Finding encouragement from her mother and teacher, we watch as Ruby‘s spirit breaks down a centuries-old barrier and forever changes history. Stars Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Pollak, and Michael Beach. Directed by Euzhan Palcy, 1998. 96 minutes. DVD. This film is not rated.
See Norman Rockwell‘s painting, The Problem We All Live With (1964), inspired by the experiences of Ruby Bridges as part of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, on view in the Upper-Level Galleries from November 1, 2013, through February 9, 2014.
Saturday, December 14 Family Workshop: “A Norman Rockwell 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Christmas” Frist Center Studio A $25 members/$35 non-members; registration includes materials and refreshments for two adults and two children; appropriate for children 5 years of age and older. Additional participants are $3.00 each. Advance registration required; call 615.744.3355 before Wednesday, November 27. Space is limited!
Be inspired by a traditional American Christmas. Collaborate with your family to create heirloom tree ornaments, including a pinecone elf, a clothespin soldier, a felt snowy owl, and a thumbprint glass ball. Afterwards, have cookies with Santa. This program connects participants to the exhibition American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.
Thursday, January 16 Lecture: “Pictures of Feeling: Norman 6:30 p.m. Rockwell‟s Affection for America” Presented by Frist Center Auditorium Erika Doss, Ph.D., professor, Department of Gallery admission required; members free American Studies, Notre Dame University Seating is first come, first seated
Norman Rockwell remains one of the most loved and recognized American artists today. In this talk, art historian Erika Doss looks at a variety of Rockwell's pictures of America and considers their popularity in terms of storytelling, style, and emotional connection with American audiences.
About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. The Frist Center offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery (open until 5:30 p.m. each day) features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5–9 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247. The Frist Center galleries, Café and Gift Shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at www.fristcenter.org.