Norman Rockwell Museum Sends Exhibit to Japan


For the first time, the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge is organizing an exhibit featuring a selection of works from its collection to be exhibited in Japan. Norman Rockwell: Highlights from the Collection of The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge will open at the Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo on December 4, 1997 and will travel to five other venues in Japan. The exhibit at the Isetan Museum in Tokyo will run through December 27, 1997.

The second venue is the Matsuzakaya Museum in Nagoya from January 3 through January 26, 1998. The Sogo Museum in Chiba will be the third venue, where it opens on January 29 and runs through March 1, 1998 followed by the Isetan Museum in Niigata, March 5 through 22. The final two venues are the Daimaru Museum in Osaka (March 25 - April 13, 1998) and Hiroshima Museum of Art (April 18 - May 17, 1998).

The exhibition is being coordinated by Mr. Masahiko Shibata of Brain Trust, Inc. of Tokyo. Mr. Shibata has been a supporter of the Norman Rockwell Museum for many years and has long dreamed of bringing a special exhibit of the museum's original artwork by Norman Rockwell to the Japanese people. Brain Trust is a respected and well-known agency which presents art exhibitions for public, private and department store museums in Japan. Among the many museums whose collections Brain Trust has presented in Japan are the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK.

"The Board of Trustees of the museum are pleased to present to our Japanese friends this important international exhibition of the museum's collection This is the first time that so many of the museum's most treasured works have traveled from their home in Stockbridge, and we extend special appreciation to Masahiko Shibata of the Brain Trust for his long-time friendship and support of the museum in his efforts to bring this collection to Japan," said board president, David L. Klausmeyer.

Museum director Laurie Norton Moffatt added, "The Japanese people have an extraordinarily high interest in Norman Rockwell and all that his artwork represents. They are very interested in artistic images that are quintessentially American. Norman Rockwell's paintings provide a visual mirror on America. When leaking at a Norman Rockwell painting, no translation is required. Images of families, young love and old age are eternal and international. This exhibition will focus on the remarkable breadth of Rockwell's work and presents many opportunities for building both his reputation and interest with new audiences."


The Japan Exhibit


Norman Rockwell: Highlights from the Collection of The Norman Rockwell Museum, curated by museum curator Maureen Hart Hennessey, features 63 original paintings, 21 drawings, 41 tear sheets, 4 original Four Freedoms War Bond posters, and archival photographs of Norman Rockwell. The exhibit includes cover illustrations, book and story illustrations and advertising art. The works include examples from all seven decades of Rockwell's career, encompassing some of his very early works to his last published cover for American Artist magazine, The Liberty Bell (1978). Many of Rockwell's most famous works for the Saturday Evening Post are included: The Runaway, Girl at Mirror, The Marriage License, No Swimming, Norman Rockwell Visits a Family Doctor, War News, Boy in Dining Car, Family Tree, The Expense Account, as well as his famous holiday pictures Christmas Homecoming, which features his family, and The Discovery. The exhibit also features many of the works Rockwell did for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company which illustrated family life in the 1950s and 60s. The exhibit will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue in both English and Japanese.

Norman Rockwell


When asked to name America's best-known artist, the average response is usually Norman Rockwell. In fact, his images may well be the most widely reproduced of any American artist. In a career that spanned seven decades, Rockwell created close to 4,000 illustrations. In addition to the cover illustrations for which he is best-known, Rockwell also illustrated stories and books and worked for over 250 companies doing advertisements, calendars and other commercial art. The vignettes of small town life, barefoot country boys, family moments and holiday scenes with which he is identified are only one aspect of his work, which also included portraits of presidents and movie stars and depictions of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Norman Rockwell was in a unique position to cover both the everyday and the historic across the twentieth century, from the first transatlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh to Neil Armstrong's first footsteps on the moon. Norman Rockwell: Highlights from the Collection of The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge includes works from every decade of Rockwell' s career, shows the breadth of illustration work and explores the subject matter which Norman Rockwell created.

Perhaps the most obvious reason for the popularity of Norman Rockwell's work is its subject matter -- he painted America and Americans. His themes are rooted in American values and pride in those values. He did not seek out the ugly or the sordid, but chose to focus on the positive in the American character. Rockwell himself said, "1 paint life as I would like it to be...l showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."

His popularity stems in no small part from his focus on family ties. The American family was at the core of Norman Rockwell's work. His view of family life remains compelling to us today because he painted universal situations and relations -- those aspects of family life that transcend time. He often turned to his own family for inspiration and frequently used them as models. Rockwell's empathy with his subject and his attention to detail combined to produce a picture that is at once authentic and nostalgic.

Norman Rockwell is remembered as a recorder of contemporary American life. During the early twentieth century, illustrations played as large a role in shaping America's self-image as they did in portraying it. Rockwell's images became a defining influence on several generations of Americans, and the term "Norman Rockwell" has come to connote a certain type of small town atmosphere and spirit of gentle humor and fair play. Norman Rockwell's legacy as the premier illustrator of the 20th century brought the art of illustration into virtually every home in America. Rockwell had a strong sense of the importance of each illustration, and his goal was to present to the public the best representation possible. "I like to think that each time people look at one of my covers, they will see something new," he wrote, "something they had not noticed before, which will give the cover added meaning."


The Norman Rockwell Museum


During the six months this exhibit is touring Japan, exhibitions at the museum will focus on many famous works from the museum's permanent collection including: The Four Freedoms, painted during World War II to illustrate President Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas and Rockwell's most famous civil rights painting, The Problem We All Live With. Noted curator Maureen Hart Hennessey stated, "In addition, the museum is hosting two exciting special exhibits, J.C. Leyendecker: A Retrospective and Seeing is Not Believing: The Art of Robert Weaver, as part of our mission to present the works of other illustrators. These two innovative exhibits, each featuring over 100 original works, complement the museum's five galleries of original Rockwell paintings."

The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge has many close ties to Japan, welcomes many Japanese visitors and maintains a close relationship with its museum members in Japan. The Japanese media has given extensive coverage of the museum. Museum director Norton Moffatt was a Rotary representative to Japan in 1994 and spent six weeks living with Japanese families, touring the country, its many museums and cultural sites.

In 1996 the museum hosted a special exhibit from Japan, The Picturebook Art of Chihiro Iwasaki which drew tens of thousands of visitors, many of Japanese descent who traveled great distances to see this exhibit from Japan at its only US venue. This underscored the power of art to communicate internationally. Much of the museum's educational programming during the Chihiro Iwasaki exhibition focused on Japanese cultural life and included a Tea Ceremony, Japanese Dance Performances, Oriental Brush Painting Classes and a Japanese New Year's Festival. Some of the visitor comments during that period reflect the great love many Japanese people have for Norman Rockwell and the museum: "I came here all the way from Japan. It was worth visiting. It was a very nice museum." "I like Norman Rockwell (his pictures) very much. I'm going back to Japan tomorrow, but I'm glad I came here." "What a pleasant surprise. The Rockwell exhibit is delightful and we loved being introduced to the art of Chihiro Iwasaki. Such a delightful and complementary contrast. "

The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, located in the Berkshires, America's premiere cultural resort, preserves and exhibits the world's largest collection of original art by America's favorite illustrator. The museum, dedicated to education and art appreciation, inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell, preserves, studies and communicates with a world-wide audience, the life, art and spirit of Norman Rockwell in the field of illustration. Founded in 1969 with the assistance of Molly and Norman Rockwell, the museum, located on Route 183 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts is set on a 36-acre scenic landscape. Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge studio was moved to the site from behind his home in Stockbridge.

The museum is open daily, year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. From November through April museum hours are I0am to 4pm weekdays and I0am to 5pm on weekends. From May through October the museum is open daily from I0am to 5pm. Norman Rockwell's studio is open from May through October.

Text courtesy of Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/22/10

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