Rockwell captures American spirit in exhibit at Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale
Voices from the past capture you as you meander through the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Museum of Art—Fort Lauderdale.
As a journalist, exploring Rockwell’s art, predominantly for The Saturday Evening Post, was a reminder of when print dominated the information market and it was the art of a cover that drew the reader in. In 323 different covers over 47 years, Rockwell captured the essence of the American experience from roughly the 1930s to the 1970s.
It is the faces in Rockwell’s portraits that jump out of you, and one can imagine him endlessly sketching the faces of the time: from cherubic children captured in car trips to the elderly looking back on life. But Rockwell also captured the art of a political statement in his work, and every time you look back at one of his covers or artwork, another piece of that same work captures your imagination and you can’t help but compare the images in his work to the images of your current American life.
Has life really changed, or has it stayed the same? On display are many images of war time, popular advertising, photographs of presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon that Rockwell captured. Touring Rockwell is going back in time because the imagery is so vivid, with every detail a reminder of the past, but also hints at the future.
One interesting aspect was the Museum of Art’s use of Facebook. In 1952, Rockwell painted a little girl in a painting called a “Day in the Life of a Little Girl.” The museum , and as part of a temporary project, is utilizing the platform to compare the daily lives of today’s young women with that of the girl pictured in Rockwell’s painting.
The use of Facebook shows that life is different, at least technologically, but despite those advancements, is American life really all that different from the images juxtaposed in Rockwell’s paintings? That was the question lingering in my mind as I left the exhibit.
It’s hard to describe the breadth of work Rockwell created, and for me, the 323 covers from the Post need to be visited again in order to fully appreciate the scope. I would have loved to stay longer and really study them, but while the exhibit and museum were kid friendly, anything over two hours would have been pushing the limits. And on that note, my five-year-old enjoyed seeing the art, and even interacting as he tried to guess what a kid was thinking in one painting, and attempting to draw a Saturday Evening Post cover while sketching at an easel.
The Rockwell exhibit runs through Feb. 7, and is a great family outing. Museum of Art—Fort Lauderdale is located downtown, at One East Las Olas Blvd, at Andrews Avenue.
The exhibit is a major retrospective of Norman Rockwell’s work throughout his 65-year career, and features works from the Norman Rockwell Museum’s collections, including his greatest oil paintings and preparatory sketches, his controversial civil rights paintings and illustrations, as well as archival photographs and documents that illustrate his artistic process. It also features the artist’s legendary patriotic series, The Four Freedoms, and all 323 of Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers.
The Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University, is open Tuesday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm with extended hours on Thursday until 8 pm, Sundays 12 pm – 5 pm and closed on Mondays. The Museum of Art is located at One East Las Olas Boulevard at Andrews Avenue in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Individual tickets for American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell are $15.00 Adults, $12.50 Seniors 65+, and $8.00 for Students 6-17. Group Rates available for groups of 10 or more by calling Visit http://moaflnsu.org/.
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