Saturday, August 19, 2017

EXHIBITIONS: An odd couple? Not as much as you might think ...

 Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol were "iconic visual communicators who embraced populism, shaped national identity, and opened new ways 
of seeing in twentieth century America." 
                                                                         ... Curator's note

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is 
currently exhibiting an original and thought-provoking show called 
Inventing America: Rockwell & Warhol. This is the first-ever 
exhibition in which the two artists' work has been paired. 
 "Until I came here today," I overheard one visitor remark
"I couldn't have imagined those two names even being used 
in the same sentence!" 

But the two men actually shared many traits:
both knew from the time they were children that art was their true calling,
both had supportive families, both had a sense of humor about themselves and their work, both started out their careers in advertising, and
both were interested in photo-realistic art at a time when the 
fine art world was in thrall to Abstract Expressionism.

Norman Rockwell's beloved oil painting "Freedom from Want" (1943)
is juxtaposed in the exhibition with Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup can (1969).
 Though both artists came from a background in the advertising world
they expressed themselves quite differently. Rockwell liked
to tell a story in his paintings, while Warhol preferred stark 
images of a product, devoid of context.

Rockwell worked on his oil portraits using photos for reference, and he
liked spending time with his subjects so that he could get a fuller
sense of their personalities. Warhol, ever the celebrity-hound, worked 
from film but rarely met his subjects until he himself became quite famous.

Warhol's two favorite muses, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe
The artist was obsessed with celebrity 
and with Monroe and Taylor in particular.
Photo credit: Jewish Museum, NY, NY

Photos of museum grounds courtesy of
Norman Rockwell Museum.  
All rights reserved.

Above left: Entrance to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA
Above center: Visitors picnic on the lawn near Rockwell's studio, which was moved from downtown Stockbridge to the museum's property in 1986.

Many of the objects in Rockwell's iconic "Triple Self-Portrait", 1960 (below) 

can be seen inside the studio.

Photos of exhibition rooms (above and below) courtesy of
Norman Rockwell Museum.  All rights reserved.

Above: Some of Warhol's threads from the 1960s,
along with one of his wigs.

The cover of the exhibition catalogue
displays two very different images of Jacquie Kennedy.
I find it striking that she looks so guarded in the 
Rockwell portrait, and so happy in the black-and-blue image 
Warhol created, based on the iconic photo of her arriving in 
Dallas on November 22, 1963. A few hours later 
her husband would be assassinated.

Inventing America: Rockwell & Warhol
will be on view until October 29, 2017.
For more info, link here

°     °     °     °     °     °     °     °     °
Whenever I'm at the Rockwell Museum, I always 
make a stop at his stirring Ruby Bridges painting
entitled "The Problem We All Must Live With" (1964). 
Ruby was the first black child in the south to attend 
an all-white school. She had to be escorted, alone, 
by federal marshals, while contending with hateful 
graffiti and objects being thrown at her.
Ruby grew up to become a civil rights activist. 
In 1999, she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation, headquartered 
in New Orleans. The foundation promotes the values of tolerance, 
respect, and appreciation of each others' differences.


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