The Underside of Innocence
ISBN10: 0226314405 ISBN13: 9780226314402 Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr Published: Oct 1 2006 Pages: 201 Weight: 1.15lbs. Height: 9.00" Width: 6.25" Depth: 0.75" Language: English
Norman Rockwell's scenes of everyday small-town life are among the most indelible images in all of twentieth-century art. While opinions of Rockwell vary from uncritical admiration to sneering contempt, those who love him and those who dismiss him do agree on one thing: his art embodies a distinctively American style of innocence.In this sure-to-be controversial book, Richard Halpern argues that this sense of innocence arises from our reluctance--and also Rockwell's--to acknowledge the often disturbing dimensions of his works. Rockwell's paintings frequently teem with perverse acts of voyeurism and desire but contrive to keep these acts invisible--or rather, hidden in plain sight, available for unacknowledged pleasure but easily denied by the viewer. Rockwell emerges in this book, then, as a deviously brilliant artist, a remorseless diagnostician of the innocence in which we bathe ourselves, and a continuing, unexpected influence on contemporary artists. Far from a banal painter of the ordinary, Halpern argues, Rockwell is someone we have not yet dared to see for the complex creature he is: a wholesome pervert, a knowing innocent, and a kitschy genius.
Provocative but judicious, witty but deeply informed, Norman Rockwell is a book rich in suggestive propositions and eye-opening details--one that will change forever the way we think about this American icon and his works.