January 2011

Norman Rockwell: Artist and Ad Man


Norman Rockwell is an American icon and, for a short time, the Washington Pavilion offers us a glimpse of his amazing body of work through the exhibition In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America.

Three of Rockwell’s Four Freedoms paintings are on display. The emotional images are credited with boosting morale during the dark days of World War II. And there are light-hearted Saturday Evening Post magazine covers, like Puppy Love and Triple Self Portrait, in the exhibit.

But the series that spoke to me was a series of advertisements he painted for Pratt & Lambert Paints in the 1920s. Each painting tells a story – like “Man Varnishing a Doll’s Bed for Little Girl,” “My Favorite Picture,” and “The Master and the Apprentice.” The detail and emotion in this series is breathtaking.

Norman Rockwell turned fine art into commercial art – or maybe he transformed commercial art into fine art. Either way, it’s a beautiful marriage, and something that we in advertising should continue to strive to achieve.

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