Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Norman Rockwell was just simple, straightforward, and honest.


Triple Self-Portrait by Norman Rockwell
1960, Oil on Canvas, 44 1/2 x 34 3/4 in.

Before I write an entry, I always do some research on the artist and the piece and let me tell you, I have learned so much in that past couple of months.  It's amazing how many random facts I have learned about all these artists. For example, Norman Rockwell's son, Thomas Rockwell, wrote the children's book How to Eat Fried Worms. I LOVED that book! I just really enjoy this blog. My hope is that other people enjoy it, but for the most part, I will always continue writing in this just for my own selfish pleasure.

Norman Rockwell has always been one of my favorites. I love artists that portray simple things and simple times. But on top of that, Norman was extremely talented. I mean, he left his school at age 14 to attend art school and everyone always knew he had potential. He couldn't escape his artistic destiny. When he tried to join the military for WWI, they made him a military artist. He is most known for his illustrations for the magazine The Saturday Evening Post where illustrations like Triple Self-Portrait frequently made the cover.

Triple Self-Portrait remains my all time favorite Norman Rockwell. It's just so darn clever. He is looking in he mirror and seeing what he really looks like, but drawing the man he wished he looked like. My favorite part are the other self-portraits that are in the upper right corner of his canvas. He has included a collection of self-portraits from many various art periods. The first is a self-portrait of the Northern Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer who was from the late 15th to early 16th century. Next to Durer is Dutch artist Rembrandt, beneath that is an abstract Picasso, and the bottom piece is a self-portrait of Van Gogh. Each of these artists created a large body of self-portraits and were essentially known for some of the best self-portraits.

You know, self-portraits are a funny thing. I mean, if someone asked me to draw myself I think it would be really hard. One, because I can't draw but more importantly because I wouldn't know how or where to start. If I made myself better looking than I really was, people might think I was vain. If I made myself seem over confident, I would seem self absorbed. If the expression on my face was a little stern, I might seem too angry. I mean, it just seems so hard. What facial expression do you choose? What clothes do you choose? What position? How big? It really seems a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Norman Rockwell chose to go about his self-portrait with humor as he was a funny guy. It's really brillant actually. He painted himself three times. One in the mirror, one painting himself, and of course one of the canvas. In doing this he not only creates a triple self-portrait, but a strong statement. Self-portraits are usually never all that precise. There is just something about someone painting themself that is hard to accomplish. People always paint the person they want to be, adjusting details to their standard. Norman gives the viewer himself as he wishes, and himself as he is and in a way, this is the most honest self-portrait there is.

Norman Rockwell was just simple, straightforward, and honest.

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