American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah SolomonThe long-awaited biography of the defining illustrator of the twentieth century by a celebrated art critic.
Norman Rockwell, as much as Walt Disney or Ronald Reagan, provided America with a mirror of its dreams and aspirations. As the star illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, Rockwell portrayed a fantasy of civic togetherness, of American decency and good cheer. Or, as Deborah Solomon writes in her authoritative new biography, he painted “a history of the American people that had never happened.”
Who was Norman Rockwell? Behind the folksy, pipe-smoking facade lay a surprisingly complex figure—a lonely man all too conscious of his inadequacies. Solomon describes him as an obsessive personality who wore his shoes too small, washed his paintings with Ivory Soap, and relied on the redemptive power of storytelling to stave off depression. He wound up in treatment with Erik Erikson, the influential psychotherapist. American Mirror draws on unpublished papers to explore the relationship between Rockwell’s anguished creativity and his genius for reflecting American innocence. “The thrill of his work,” writes Solomon, “is that he was able to use the commercial form of magazine illustration to thrash out his private obsessions.”
In American Mirror, Solomon, a biographer and art critic, trains her perceptive eye on both the art and the man. She also brilliantly chronicles the visual history of American journalism and the battle pitting photography against illustration.
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Nude needed: For this cover illustration Rockwell skipped his usual practice of asking locals to pose for him. Instead he went to New York and hired a professional model. A Rockwell nude? Well, almost. When Mermaid surfaced on the August 20, , cover of the Post , public reaction was swift. Do I need a license? Unnerved by the response, Post editors hurriedly polled a sample of readers and were relieved to find that only about one in 20 considered the image obscene.
Saturday Evening Post cover August 20, During his student years, Rockwell sometimes escaped to a Provincetown, Massachusetts, seaside resort for rest and to sketch outdoors. The idea for Mermaid formed from memories of these early experiences An year-old Gloucester lobsterman posed for the painting, but, imagining the turmoil that might ensue if a neighbor were to pose nude, Rockwell hired a professional model from New York for the mermaid. For the fish, Rockwell purchased a pound pollack from the Berkshire Fish Company. He photographed it and then gave it to John Malumphy, who served it in his restaurant for two days. Quality Norman Rockwell Museum Custom Prints is your exclusive source for custom reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the Norman Rockwell Museum. All items that are offered are produced using gallery-quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as modern technology will allow.