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Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
Also known as: Rockwell, Norman PercevalBirth Place: New York City (New York state, United States)
Born in New York City on February 3, 1894, Norman Rockwell began his illustrious career at a young age, receiving his first commission to paint Christmas cards at sixteen and illustrating his first book just the following year.
Rockwell’s artwork made its debut on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 20, 1916, becoming his first of 323 covers that would be published by the iconic American magazine over the next 47 years. Accordingly, his success with The Post captured the attention of other publications including Life, Judge and Leslie’s, and the young artist enjoyed a fruitful income throughout the 1920s. He received commissions from household names such as Jell-O, Boy Scouts of America and Orange Crush soda, among others.
The 1930s and 40s also proved to be prolific periods in Rockwell’s career, despite some critics who pigeonholed his work as “kitschy”— intended for reproduction use only and therefore lacking in true artistic merit. Even some of his contemporaries referred to Rockwell as an “illustrator” instead of a painter—a label he willingly embraced. Nevertheless, Rockwell used his creative platform to draw upon social and cultural issues facing America and was praised by the public for his ability to capture the triumphs and tribulations of the common man.
His political and social commentary became more apparent during the latter part of his career, and he began to receive greater recognition as an artist when he contributed to several projects condemning racism and stressing the importance of integration for the younger generations. His influence on society remains memorialized not only through his paintings but also the publications, advertisements and literature that exposed his body of work to a wider audience and allowed the greater public to appreciate what he had to say.
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