National Museum of American Illustration
Norman Rockwell and His Contemporaries is a thematic exploration of artworks by Rockwell and his peers: those who were influenced by Rockwell and those who influenced the master himself. The most noted artist-illustrators of Rockwell’s time knew each other as colleagues, classmates, and friends, living and working together in relevant artist communities, sustaining one another, and sharing clients and models. They were united with a common purpose: to accurately portray our nation visually and meet its ever-rising demands for more images as publishing and distribution systems expanded capabilities.
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is best known for his iconic covers for the Saturday Evening Post covers painted during the 20th century. His heart-warming depictions of American life are universally relevant, creating a lasting connection to national and international audiences alike. His ability to create memorable stories and quintessential scenes through his artworks makes them perennial, still enchanting audiences today. Despite early criticisms of illustration art, as of December 2013, Rockwell now ranks amongst the most expensive and most sought after artists. This monumental record elevates illustration art and its historical and cultural significance, marking an unprecedented recognition and appreciation by the art world.
Highlighted alongside Rockwell in this exhibition and its corresponding catalogue are five renowned illustrators from the Golden Age: John Clymer, Stevan Dohanos, John Falter, George Hughes, and Mead Schaeffer. Clymer flawlessly captured the vast wilderness of the American West in his scenic magazine covers featuring boundless landscapes. Dohanos’ clear visual images gave audiences poignant glimpses of Americana on magazine covers, stamps and more. Falter’s humorous depictions of children and the everyday lives of Americans became an entertaining principle of the Saturday Evening Post throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. A foundation in fashion and graphic design led Hughes to create highly stylized, elegant illustrations for magazine covers and stories. Prolific in illustrations for adventure novels before moving to magazine covers, Schaeffer’s authentic portrayals of pirates, buccaneers and soldiers made him one of the truly great "Golden Age" illustrators.
These illustrators reflected and molded American society by depicting universal themes that are still held dear today, including courtship and love, family gatherings, sports, holidays, seasons and many more.
Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, Norman Rockwell & His Contemporaries, provides a collection of illustrations by Norman Rockwell and contemporary American illustrators, like J.C. Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and many more. The 350-page exhibition catalogue features artworks by 100 illustrators from throughout the 20th century and explores how these artists were influenced by each other through a selection of common themes. Includes brief biographies of the artists and lifespan timeline. Images are organized by category as well as individual artist.