D.C. Diary – Rockwell paints a portrait of American life

September 15, 2000
The Corcoran Museum
2:13 p.m.

I’ve been at GW for three years now and I can count on one hand how many museums and cultural events I’ve attended. Yes, I know I should be ashamed, but I always told myself oh, you can go next year. As my senior year seems to be dwindling away very quickly although it’s only mid-September, I decided to go check out the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Norman Rockwell exhibit, People for the American People. The decision to get a little cultured and the trek to 17th Street and New York Avenue was well worth it.

Walking into the museum, I was surprised how packed it was. I suppose I always was under this delusion that if I was not going to museums, then other people were not going to them either. Well, I was wrong.

The tour was self-guided with the option of a headset to help escort along the museumgoer. The reality of Rockwell’s illustrations became overwhelmingly apparent as I strolled around the six main rooms of the exhibit. How is it possible to document history so well by a magazine cover?

Rockwell’s illustrations were broken up into four thematic groups. The first section, Inventing America, demonstrated how Rockwell created pictures that bridged old and new technologies. These paintings offered Americans a sense of comfort as the 20th century introduced them to a seemingly endless series of changes.

The second section, Drawing on the Past, explores how Rockwell’s work generated a visual lexicon of characters and scenes from American history, while showing the past holds lessons for the future.

Celebrating the Commonplace documents Rockwell’s remarkable ability to focus on everyday moments and elevate them to new significance. Rockwell takes details of everyday scenes from big city and small town life and illustrates them beautifully for the average man.

Finally, in Honoring the American Spirit, the exhibition brings together images that address complex social issues, promote patriotism and examine ideas that were important to American life.

All of Rockwell’s works are extremely expressive and imaginative. The detailed illustrations made Rockwell the American icon he is today. Get out of your residence hall and go see this special exhibit that ends Sunday Sept. 24.

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