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Norman Rockwell 332 Magazine Covers Hardcover – Apr 30 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Apr 30 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville (April 30 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789208547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789208545
  • Product Dimensions: 33.8 x 28.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #915,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Christopher Finch was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands, in 1939 and came to the United States in 1968 to join the curatorial staff of the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis. His books include the best sellers Norman Rockwell's America, The Art of Walt Disney, and Rainbow, a biography of Judy Garland, which was turned into a film. His other books, as well as many articles for magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, have dealt with various aspects of contemporary painting and popular culture.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Norman Rockwell: 332 Magazine Covers
Norman Rockwell Portrayed Americans as Americans Chose to See Themselves

Norman Rockwell began his career as an illustrator in 1910, the year that Mark Twain died. He sold his first cover paintings when there were still horse-drawn cabs on the streets of many American cities, and he began his association with The Saturday Evening Post in 1916, the year in which Woodrow Wilson was elected to a second term in the White House and the year in which Chaplin's movie The Floorwalker broke box office records across the country. Young women were enjoying the comparative freedom of ankle-length skirts, and their beaux were serenading them with such immortal ditties as “The Sunshine of Your Smile” and “Yackie Hacki Wicki Wackie Woo.” In literature this was the age of Booth Tarkington, Edith Wharton, and O. Henry. Ernest Hemingway, still in his teens, was a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star, and F. Scott Fitzgerald—soon to become a frequent contributor to the Post—was still at Princeton. The New York Armory show of 1913 had introduced the American public to recent trends in European painting, but traditional values still reigned supreme in the American art world. Only a handful of artists aspired to anything more novel than the mild postimpressionism of painters like John Sloan and Maurice Prendergast. The movies were becoming a potent force in popular entertainment, but few people took them seriously or thought they might one day take their place alongside established art forms.

It was a world in transition, but the transition had not yet accelerated to the giddy speed it would achieve in the twenties. People could be thrilled by the exploits of pioneer aviators without being conscious of the impact that flying machines would have on modern warfare. It was possible to enjoy the conveniences provided by such relatively new inventions as the telephone, the phonograph, the vacuum cleaner, and the automobile without being too troubled by the notion that technology might someday soon threaten the established order of things.

The illustrator and cover artist working in the mid-teens of the twentieth century was generally asked to embody established values. The latest model Hupmobile Runabout might well be the subject of a given picture—an advertisement, perhaps—but the people who were shown admiring or driving in the newfangled vehicle were presumed to espouse the same values as their parents and their grandparents. The set of the jaw, the glint in the eye had not changed much since the middle of the nineteenth century. The women wore their hair a little differently, perhaps, and men were doing without beards, but these are superficial differences. The fact is that the minds of the people who edited and bought magazines like Colliers, Country Gentleman, Literary Digest, and The Saturday Evening Post had been formed, to a large extent, in the Victorian era.

Norman Rockwell himself, born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, had a classic late Victorian upbringing. He spent his childhood in a solidly middle-class, God-fearing household in which it was the custom for his father to read the works of Dickens out loud to the entire family. Thus Rockwell had little difficulty in adapting to the conventions that were current in the field of magazine illustration at the outset of his career. Although a New Yorker, he was especially drawn to rural subject matter (he is on record as saying that he felt more at home in the country). This reinforced his affection for traditional idioms, since it focused his attention on the most conservative elements of the population, those who were least susceptible to change of any kind.

In short, Rockwell began his career right in the mainstream of the illustrators of his day, sharing the assumptions and concerns of his contemporaries and of the editors who employed him. His work is remarkable because he sustained through half a century the values that he espoused in those early days when the world was changing more drastically than anyone could have imagined possible. It would be easy enough, of course, to find fault with his refusal to break with those values, but that would be unjust. Rockwell simply continued to believe in what he had always believed in, and in his own way, he did, in fact, change and grow throughout his career. He learned how to embrace the modern age without abandoning his own principles. But he was also forced to modify and enrich his approach to the art of illustration in order to reconcile those principles to a world that was evolving so fast it seemed, at times, on the verge of flying apart.

His earliest paintings are conventional, almost to the point of banality, because the values they embody could be taken so much for granted. As he was forced to deal with a changing environment, however, he was obliged to become more inventive and original. A situation that could be presented in the simplest of terms in 1916, for example, might still be valid a quarter of a century later, but only if it were made more specific. Stereotypes had to be replaced by carefully individualized characters. More and more detail had to be introduced to make a situation more particular. As time passed, Rockwell was called upon to draw on all his resources as an illustrator in order to put his audience—which was always changing—along with him. As circumstances became, theoretically at least, more hostile to his kind of traditional image-making, he rose to the challenge. His work became richer and more resonant, reaching a peak in the forties and fifties when most of the men who had been his rivals at the outset of his career were already long forgotten. His most remarkable quality was his ability to grow and adapt—to remain flexible—without ever modifying the basic tenets of his art.

What seems to have enabled him to do this was a belief in the fundamental decency of the great majority of his fellow human beings. This belief was the most deep-seated of all his values, and it enabled him to perceive a continuity in behavior patterns undisturbed by shifts in social mores. The twentieth century has offered plenty of evidence of man's ability to shed his humanity, and Rockwell was certainly aware of this, yet he clung to his belief and decency. It was an article of faith, and it gave his work its particular flavor of innocence.

Over the past hundred years or so, artists and critics have been ambiguous in their attitudes toward innocence. The "naive" vision of such painters as Henri Rousseau has been much prized, yet more schooled artists have often been led astray when they attempted to embrace such a vision (indeed it would be difficult for such a vision to survive schooling). Picasso, the most protean of all twentieth-century artists—greatly admired by Rockwell, it should be noted—was able to run the full gamut: from a childlike delight in transforming bicycle parts into the likeness of a bulls head to the nightmare vision of Guernica—but Picasso was, in every way, an exception to the rules.

Rockwell's art has nothing, of course, to do with the innovations of modern painting. He was essentially a popular artist—an entertainer—and he was always fully aware that his work was intended to be seen in reproduction. The originals—generally painted on a relatively large scale—are, however, beautiful objects in their own right. He was looking to the general public rather than to a small, highly informed audience, and it was this perhaps that enabled him to sustain the innocence of his vision. Dealing with mass communication rather than the higher reaches of aesthetic decision-making, he has no place in the developing pattern of art history. It is futile even to compare him with American realists like Edward Hopper, whose subject matter occasionally had something in common with Rockwell's. Hopper was always concerned primarily with plastic values, as is the case with any "pure" painter. Rockwell, on the other hand, had to think first and foremost about conveying information about his subject, as must be the case with any illustrator. An illustrator may, of course, have many of the same skills as the "pure" painter, but he deploys them in a different way. Essentially he borrows from existing idioms of easel painting—whether traditional, as in Norman Rockwell's case, or more experimental, as was the case with his notable contemporary Rockwell Kent—and uses them as a means of conveying information. Interestingly, it is known that Norman Rockwell himself, during the twenties, was drawn to modern idioms-the result of a sojourn in Paris—but rejected them in favor of older conventions. The reason for this, we may suppose, was his recognition of the fact that his gift was not painterly at all (remarkable as his painterly skills were). It was, rather, his ability as a pictorial storyteller.

Most of Rockwell's finest covers are, in effect, anecdotes. With occasional exceptions, he can give us only one scene—an isolated episode—but, in his mature work especially, he knows how to pack that scene with so much significant detail that the events that precede it, and follow from it, are, so to speak, latent in the single image. A great short story writer, like Guy de Maupassant, can conjure up a whole life within the span of a dozen pages. Rockwell, at his best, was capable of doing the same kind of thing with a single picture. Because of this he deserves to be thought of as something more than just an illustrator. An illustrator, by definition, is someone who takes another person's story (or advertising copy) and adds a visual dimension. Rockwell, in his cover art, went far beyond this. He was not only the illustrator, but also the author of the story. In his work, image and anecdote were inseparable; each sprang naturally from the other…
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To say that you can spend hours browsing through this wonderful collection is an understatement. This is a book that can be savored over a lifetime.
It shows the progression of Rockwell's art from his early, almost Victorian style covers, to his most famous illustrations, to his political portraits. It always annoys me that people claim he is an illustrator, not an artist. Simply because these pictures tell a story should not detract from their artistic merit.
This volume has them all. From the beautiful, awkward, girl at the Mirror, Doctor's appointment and countless others that are not as well known, but still great! So many of these paintings allow us to learn more about America (Can you get much more American than Norman Rockwell?). His GI- Willie Gillis is truly everyman during WWII. We seem enjoying a hometown newspaper, on leave, with his comrades, and finally as a student on the GI Bill. So many ideas are timeless. The chronicle of a day in the life of a boy or girl seem to embody childhood. Commuters on a platform captures the rise of suburbia. THe one of a son sitting with his father and dog about to leave for college captures that bittersweet moment on the cusp of adolescence.
The sunlit, yet dusty, Marriage Liscense is generally recognized as art, but others should be too. I hope that with the recent Rockwell exhibets a new generation of Americans will appreciate this wodnerful artist who captured so much of our lives!
This is a great addition to any collection- you will never tire of looking through it!
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By A Customer on April 13 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you can only have one Norman Rockwell book, look no further. This is the quintessential Norman Rockwell. You can spend hours and hours looking at the illustrations and still not fully grasp all the subtle nuances - like the cameo paintings within the painting; the relections in the mirror; the advertisements in the folded newspapers; and so on. I have only found one inconsistency. In "The Clock Mender" some areas in the painting make an abrupt departure from his trademark quasi-realistic style. It reminds me of Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". Was Rockwell cleverly introducing "Surrealism" into this particular painting, in an inverted Salvador Dali sort of way? Or was the original painting simply damaged and then retouched by someone else? It would make delightful reading if Mr Finch, or anyone else, could offer an explanation.
From Kelvin
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Norman Rockwell is my favourite artist (illustrator). This book is a must have for all fans. It's a comprehensive and full size collection of all his Post covers. However, the reproduction of the images are not very good. It looks like a copy of a copy. I have several other Rockwell books with some of the same paintings, reproduced perfectly. I've seen his actual paintings too, so i have a solid reference point.

This isn't a problem just with my copy. I've seen several editions and runs of this particular book, in different sizes. They're all pretty dull in their printing.

All that being said, you still get all the joy that a Rockwell moment/story brings to you. So, no regrets.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e0850d8) out of 5 stars 77 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By Samantha W. Mckevitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To say that you can spend hours browsing through this wonderful collection is an understatement. This is a book that can be savored over a lifetime.
It shows the progression of Rockwell's art from his early, almost Victorian style covers, to his most famous illustrations, to his political portraits. It always annoys me that people claim he is an illustrator, not an artist. Simply because these pictures tell a story should not detract from their artistic merit.
This volume has them all. From the beautiful, awkward, girl at the Mirror, Doctor's appointment and countless others that are not as well known, but still great! So many of these paintings allow us to learn more about America (Can you get much more American than Norman Rockwell?). His GI- Willie Gillis is truly everyman during WWII. We seem enjoying a hometown newspaper, on leave, with his comrades, and finally as a student on the GI Bill. So many ideas are timeless. The chronicle of a day in the life of a boy or girl seem to embody childhood. Commuters on a platform captures the rise of suburbia. THe one of a son sitting with his father and dog about to leave for college captures that bittersweet moment on the cusp of adolescence.
The sunlit, yet dusty, Marriage Liscense is generally recognized as art, but others should be too. I hope that with the recent Rockwell exhibets a new generation of Americans will appreciate this wodnerful artist who captured so much of our lives!
This is a great addition to any collection- you will never tire of looking through it!
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e089ca8) out of 5 stars Deception Sept. 24 2007
By Emmanuel Oettinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This would be a wonderful book for Rockwell's fans BUT the poor quality of the printing and the copies of illustrations made me regret buying it.

It still makes a nice book on the shelf.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e089f84) out of 5 stars A Collector's Item April 13 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you can only have one Norman Rockwell book, look no further. This is the quintessential Norman Rockwell. You can spend hours and hours looking at the illustrations and still not fully grasp all the subtle nuances - like the cameo paintings within the painting; the relections in the mirror; the advertisements in the folded newspapers; and so on. I have only found one inconsistency. In "The Clock Mender" some areas in the painting make an abrupt departure from his trademark quasi-realistic style. It reminds me of Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". Was Rockwell cleverly introducing "Surrealism" into this particular painting, in an inverted Salvador Dali sort of way? Or was the original painting simply damaged and then retouched by someone else? It would make delightful reading if Mr Finch, or anyone else, could offer an explanation.
From Kelvin
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e08b300) out of 5 stars Terrible quality prints Dec 13 2008
By Robert Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although there are plenty of large prints of his work the quality here is terrible! The colours are washed out and grainy, doing Rockwell a great disservice by not being a true representation of his amazing work, Very disappointed I bought this.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Z. Rodrigues - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a review of Rockwells work as much as it is about the quality of the book. Its a nice big book , with one cover following the other. the quality of color is a bit sub standard and the descriptions at the end make things a bit hard to flip back and forth. A brilliant collection ofcourse but not as nice as I expected. Tom rockwell's best of Norman Rockwell is smaller but way better print quality. I do recommend this book ofcourse for the genius and technique of a great american master.


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