Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Norman Rockwell

Unlike the political dissident artist Philipon against the infamous French ruler, King Phillippe, artist Norman Rockwell was a prolific artist whose work not only reflected American culture, but also greatly supported the (then) World War II effort, and his country. As described in “The Pear” article, French Graphic Arts in the golden age of Caricature, Government suggests that Caricatures are more dangerous than the printed word, in relationship to the abundance of recent political revolutions, and overthrown monarchies. And rightfully so, they were dynamic and their narration could be interpreted by both literate and illiterate alike. It was the La Caricature posted by Philipon that emanated the consistent rise of political caricatures… However, it was his later series, Le Charivari that gained more success. It was less costly, making it more accessible to the then (ruling) bourgeoisie class. Readers enjoyed the new issues, and the variety as well as political remarks. I couldn’t help but to think of the Le Charivari in parallel to the Saturday Evening Post. Through print, not necessarily printed word, Norman Rockwell displayed hundreds of pictures and paintings conveying the “everyday” of American life.

Except unlike Philipon, Rockwell’s paintings weren’t necessarily used in a disobedient manner. Rather, given as a way to “uplift” the then suffering bourgeoisie. His paintings supported the sales of war bonds, and ways to fuel the deteriorating economy.

One example is Rosie the Riveter. She is a fictional female icon, one that resembles strength and persistence. Norman Rockwell’s depiction of this character is almost a manly physique. Without the head, it appears as though we wouldn’t have even thought her to be a woman. This strength was given as almost a propaganda-esk piece, encouraging women to support their husbands, and support the country, by helping with the economy. At this time, helping meant to join the workforce! Come work in factories, because you are strong! Rosie, on her seemingly rough lunch break, looks almost unaffected by the ruggedness of her penny loafers, and the large machine that sits in her lap. As the text reads above, “Heart on Her Sleeve,” she cares about helping, and will do almost anything to support her country. The waving American flag in the background fortifies this. She is also an educated woman and in the spirit of the war effort, she is reading a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

I am curious about the impact of Rockwell’s paintings at the time of their creation, and publishing. Were they as cherished as those of Philipon’s time? Did people look forward to getting the Saturday Evening post for the narrations? These existed during World War II, where the questioning of the War as well as the government took place. Did these caricatures have the same effect as other wartime artworks during the French Revolution?

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