Norman Rockwell: Hope and humanity in mid-century America

A bountiful Thanksgiving meal.
Children dancing at a party.
A young couple at a truck stop after the prom.

It’s easy to mistake Rockwell’s optimistic vision of daily life in America as something lightweight and superficial. Art critics detested him in his day, calling him out for ‘bourgeois clichés’.
Despite this, forty years after his death, Rockwell continues to be one of America’s most popular artists. His fans include George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg. In 2018, singer Lana del Rey used his name for her sixth album, ‘Norman F****** Rockwell!’.

Rockwell possessed an almost uncanny ability to read the American psyche at any given moment in time. His characters were always seen through a deeply compassionate lens, whether that was ‘Rosie The Riveter’, a hymn to the power of women inspired by Michelangelo, ‘The Runaway’, a view of the police as protectors of innocence, or his chilling indictment of racism, ‘The Problem We All Live With’.

This talk explores Rockwell’s best work and hopes to demonstrate that he should be recognised as one of America’s greatest artists.