American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell is a traveling exhibit that spent its winter season at BYU’s Museum of Art. The exhibit contains some of Rockwell’s most famous pieces and the 323 covers he created during the time he worked for the New York Post from 1916 to 1963.
“This exhibition shows some of his earlier pieces and shows how he was developing as an illustrator and artist and carries throughout his career,” said Janalee Emmer, curator of the BYU Museum of Art. “It is really nice to show the trajectory of his work.”
The BYU exhibit on Rockwell’s work offers insight into the historical events at the time the paintings were created. Some of the paintings portray more serious moments than others, but Rockwell was known for painting the world as he thought it should be seen. The exhibit takes the viewer through Rockwell’s life work, with over 50 pieces and an entire collection of his New York Post covers.
Rockwell is known for works that illustrate what life was like for the common man at that time. Through his artwork, Rockwell gave insights into how life really was or how he saw it to be, and said of his work, “I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.”
Although Rockwell was known for painting the common man, he was not afraid to dabble in more serious social issues. The focal point of the BYU exhibit was his famous piece “The Problem We All Live With,” which portrays U.S. Marshals escorting a young black girl named Ruby Bridges, who was the first person to integrate into a southern elementary school, to her first day of school.
The exhibit also includes Rockwell’s interpretation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” in his message to Congress in 1941. The four paintings were part of an exhibition put on by the New York Post that raised over $100 million in war bonds.
To see this exhibit and others offered by the BYU Museum of Art, visit moa.byu.edu. Because this exhibit is popular, tickets must be reserved but are still free of charge.