The Berkshires Blog

Reconsidering Norman Rockwell

Published in Fine Art Globe
By Jody B. Cutler-Bittner

The Norman Rockwell Museum provides scope vis-à-vis the reputation of an artist as popular in the first half of the 20th century as Andy Warhol was in the second. Prolonged pandemic and related relocation have led me to explore art venues I probably never would have sought out otherwise—such as this tribute to Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), located in the pre-Revolutionary-established village of Stockbridge, MA.

  The opening of the Norman Rockwell Museum in 1969 was facilitated by the artist, who spent the last two decades of his life in the town. The museum was reestablished on new grounds in 1993, along with Rockwell’s last studio. Since then, the historical and market value of his art has been rising incrementally, unraveling his niche status as a competent—if kitschy for many art cognoscenti—illustrator. His populist success was his failure, to paraphrase philosopher-art critic Arthur C. Danto, who argued for Rockwell’s art by virtue of its ability to connect emotionally with viewers (see “Age of Innocence“). I can say, straight away, that seeing his original paintings first-hand — if you know them only through reproductions and adaptations for print —will probably affect your considerations of his oeuvre.