Friday, July 9, 2010

Norman Rockwell: The Runaway (1958)

There are snobs out there who say Norman Rockwell was merely an illustrator. That is bull. There is always a lot of emotional content in his paintings. Perhaps the modern art critic wants something with a little more death and destruction in it. But in art history, this shows up in many paintings as the historical record of times, clothes, kings, and verities that are no more. Here, too. 

In the eternal verities, the urge to rebel is universal, the call to obey as well. And where is the time flying part of this message? In the faces, but also in the contrast between human and institution. The straight lines and clean, nearly untouched whites of the background--things already set, like stone. Only law, order, rebellion, youth and age , guilt and innocence, fear and epiphany belong to the humans. 

This is a dynamite picture. It has everything in it except a Female. The composition--three heads forming a triangle, show justice, mercy, laughter, stability, and even sadness. I love Norman Rockwell. 


Gia's Spot said...

You have totally changed my perspective on this very classic scene! How do you always do that?

Ann T. said...

Dear Gia,
Wow, back! That is a very fine compliment! Thank you!
Ann T.

The Bug said...

I've always been a big Rockwell fan too - thanks for posting this today!

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
Thank you for stopping in! It's always a pleasure.
Ann T.

Bob G. said...

This is one of my personal favorites from Rockwell.

He captured LIFE and all of it's intracacies, and did it marvelously.

And YOUR observations are bang on!

Of course you know WHY there are NO females in the picture, right?

Only BOYS back then were "rebellious" and did "bad" things like playing hooky from school (or running away to join the circus).

Girls were SO prim and proper.
They would NEVER consider doing such things as those BOYS (yuck) used to do.

I miss those times...AND Norman.

Have yourself a great weekend.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
ROFL! As a rebellious woman from a rebellious girl, I often mentally packed my bag (or in my case, a metal pail plus pillowcase) and prepared to hit the road.

Alas, I was also my own policeman. . . too darn bad. Although I have been able to realize much of my adventurous side as an adult.

Have a great weekend!
Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
Yes! Nice analysis. My eye is drawn to the boy's sack--bright red in a subdued field. The perfect symbol of the wanna be rebel.

The officer here also--to me is showing two things--the soft place for the boy to land NOW and the possibility of adventure LATER because the boy's eyes open to future possibilities...

Ah, a simpler time...

The Observer

Christopher said...

And Andy Warhol just painted soup cans. There's a reason they're called "critics". :)

My favorite Rockwell piece. Love your take on it.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Oh, yes, to the red! Don't you think he probably chose it for just that reason?

And yes, I think the boy is looking at his lack of authority/capability now and straight into a future capability. The soft landing has already happened--the cop definitely has a twinkle behind the the boom in his voice, don't you think?

Love this piece.
Thanks for writing in!
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Christopher,
If Andy Warhol wasn't dead already . . . now he WAS an illustrator. And a bad influence on the people around him. And shallow.

Other pop artists have done social commentary, revealed nothingness or isolation, reviled consumerism, etc. Andy's secret was that his nothing was really nothing, his art was really an advertisement.

As you can see, he is not my favorite.

I'm glad you enjoyed a re-visit to your favorite Rockwell!

Ann T.

Slamdunk said...

I am a Rockwell fan as well Ann T. I liked your analysis and did not consider that message.

One of my fav Rockwell works is Girl at the Mirror--the Mrs. has it hanging upstairs. It is one of those images that a viewer can discover a new twist or perspective just about every time it is viewed.

Thanks for the good topic.

Momma Fargo said...

This is one of my favorite Norman Rockwells. I think because it hung in my supervisor's office and when he died suddenly of a heart attack, his wife donated it to the police department. It hangs next to his picture in memory of him. He was very much a community supporter and investigated crimes against children. A great man. Reminds me of him.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Oh, the Girl at the Mirror is also lovely. All the wistfulness and hope, and surely a sense, for the observer, of time's quick passage. Also how that child never really leaves us.

Thanks for bringing that one back to mind.

Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Momma Fargo,
Yes, this picture is about saving a child, too, isn't it?

I am so glad it brings forward a happy memory.

Thanks for writing in!
Ann T.