Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

So am I an elitist snob or dumbed down?

You can't answer "that's redundant."

DIA is hosting a Norman Rockwell exhibit. I really want to see it and we have plans to go and take the kids. My mom is coming; she's never been to the DIA, but she's coming for this. We've even gotten a kids' book on Rockwell to help them get something out of it. I compare Rockwell's stuff to Robert Frost's poetry--I get it. I don't need footnotes or interpretations to explain it to me. Even Wilfred Owen's stuff I sometimes need to look up, but not Frost or Rockwell. So I like it.
I remember seeing it on the back cover of Reader's Digest growing up. I was so proud when I recognized one of his works (the triple self-portrait) on the wall of a local restaurant.

In reading the write-up from the head curator/guy in charge of the DIA, one could feel his surprise at his own pleasure in hosting the show. He was just some syrupy, popular-culture illustrator; not an Artist. Right. He did a couple hundred covers for the Saturday Evening Post and made his living from it, that's all. A decade or two or more ago, Rockwell stood as much chance of a real art museum showing his stuff as your average third-grader. It wasn't considered art.

So why is it considered art now? I've railed against the dumbing down of our culture; is Rockwell's popularity a symptom of this? Or is it a recognition of art outside what the Elitist Snobs Who Know Better Than the Unwashed Masses? I mean, Vincent van Gogh sold a single painting during his lifetime and now they're worth millions. What happened with Vincent, and did the same thing happen in the art community with Rockwell?

These are the questions I think about while I'm washing dishes and pairing socks. You didn't think it took that much out of me, did you?

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At 7:24 PM, Blogger HISchild said...

Something just occurred to me. There are seasons. Maybe it is Rockwell's season. Some are good and others not so good.

There sure seems to be a season of mediocrity for lots of things right now.

I like Rockwell too. I don't think it falls in the mediocre category;)

At 7:56 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies said...

It is now that the scared little child, who sat in the doctor's office, the Dentist's chair, has turned into a parent.

The child of yesteryear remembers the time(s) they were afraid, unsure, weak; sitting there unable to express their emotion properly.

They looked up, saw the painting in the office; realized that the child in the painting felt the same way.

Immediately upon gazing at the Rockwell, the child felt peace, comfort, maybe even broke a smile.

That child now makes the decision.

What is art?

Emotion personified.

I'll be going to the DIA to relive my comforting moments. Tis a lovey for the eyes. :o)

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Zach said...

Bah - my previous comment (rant) got eaten... anyway, I don't know if Rockwell is a "great" artist by the standards of the ages -- but I think he's a good artist. An honest craftsman portraying sane subjects.

Which places him worlds ahead of the current "art" world.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Heather mom of 6 said...

I think he qualifies as an artist and a darn good one at that. His work is recognizable, respectful, patriotic, something we can relate to. It is everyday America capture and preserved. I have seen some "art" that makes no sense or is so offensive that I feel embarrassed looking at it as an adult with my mother. Norman Rockwell's art should be proudly displayed and emulated.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Maureen said...

Illustrative and narrative art is making a comeback, now that people are sick of all the abstract and non-narrative stuff. The trendy new appreciation for graphic novels (and that artists can make money off them and self-publish without compromise and with plenty of feedback, especially on the Web) is a contributor. Also, it's been long enough since people have been producing consistently good naturalistic art that the old stuff looks very fresh and amazing, and even fresher compared to modern artists who work from photos instead of life.

Also, there's a lot of rich guys buying old illustration art, which helps. Whatever the market likes, curators like too. :)


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