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Norman Rockwell by Elizabeth Miles Montgomery.

Norman Rockwell by Elizabeth Miles Montgomery.

Norman Rockwell by Elizabeth Miles Montgomery ©1989 is a coffee table book with a color print retrospective of the artist’s life work of illustrating American life. It has over 150 10.5 x 14.25 inch page size color reproductions starting from his first Post cover 20 May 1916 Boy with Carriage p. 61

Norman Rockwell - Boy with carriage

Norman Rockwell – Boy with carriage

46 years later to the Post cover 1962 The Connoisseur p. 191.

Norman Rockwell - The Connoisseur

Norman Rockwell – The Connoisseur

During that half century long career his painting style changes only a little, and his vision changes hardly at all—they are all easily recognized as Norman Rockwell an no one else. This book is available on Amazon for under $4 plus postage.

Any artist of any medium should spend at least a couple of hours with Rockwell for they will see a lot just by looking. No doubt it will be a bit dated in its subject matter, and will become cloying because a full book of Rockwell gives an overdose of nonstop cuteness, but it is filled with historical detail, and careful observation of people and artistic  technique.

Rockwell seems to take a basic ideal idea, and break it down into a dozen or so sub ideal ideas, and then populate the basic idea with iconic examples of these sub ideas. He seems to work with Platonic ideal forms for each of his particular subjects, and sub subjects, and sub sub subjects. He lays out the bare bones model of the entire scene, and then fleshes it out and clothes that ideal form in ideal surfaces. His apparent goal is to create a perfect representation of a moment in time of an idealized moment of a particular bit of American life. Everything is designed to be perfectly apt to that moment. Everyone is always paying careful attention to whatever they are doing even if it is sleeping. His subjects are like wild animals, or people at a baseball game, always on the alert even when nothing is happening. Sometimes this gets weird like the picture below where even the doll is perfectly attentive to having his heart checked by the doctor.

A sixty year retrospective

Norman Rockwell: A sixty year retrospective

This book is the Catalogue of an exhibition organized by Bernard Danenberg Galleries, New York with text by Thomas S. Buechner c 1972. 8.75 x 11.75 inches. It is available on-line for under a dollar.

If you are an older person you can certainly have a warm codgerly reminiscence with the good old days while perusing either of these books of glorification of iconicised Americana of the 1910 through early 1960s period.