The Norman Rockwell Museum in the artist’s hometown of Stockbridge, Massachusetts is the chief repository of his work. Currently, a selection of 44 Rockwell paintings from Stockbridge is on view at the Tacoma Art Museum, accompanied by drawings, studies, photographs, and framed reproductions of all 321 of his iconic covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The show, and particularly the opportunity to see Rockwell originals, offers a sometimes surprising perspective on an artist everyone thinks they already know, as KUOW's art critic, Gary Faigin, observes.
Up until quite recently, one did not admit to liking Norman Rockwell in polite company, at least so far as the art world was concerned. Rockwell’s work-for-hire magazine covers, posters, and illustrations so unashamedly embraced everything that contemporary art had rejected – sentimentality, wholesomeness, photographically precise realism – that it stood to reason that the very same people who liked Rockwell were the enemies of modern art. Rockwell was the Red State answer to Andy Warhol, enshrining a version of America that was false and anachronistic – or so the argument went.