When I lived in St. Petersburg, I loved the Russian museum. It holds the work of the original Russian Realists and their wayword offspring The Soviet Realist painters. These guys could flat- PAINT. Their command of light, color, and detail is something that changed my thought processes as a writer and photographer. They had talent from God and used it to support a cause, Soviet Communism, that killed around 100 million people in it’s life span.
Just as much, I love the work of Norman Rockwell. Again, talent from God. When I think of classic America, I think in terms of Rockwell. THIS IS THE PART THAT WILL LIKELY PISS YOU OFF. I think we were being played by Rockwell, a friend of FDR. In 1941 Roosevelt delivered a speech where he coined the term “the four freedoms”. Freedom of Speech (good). Freedom of Religion (good). Freedom from Fear (uh oh). Freedom from Want (screeeetch go the brakes). Rockwell’s most popular work is based on that speech, it was commissioned by the Govt, as a late part of The New Deal Art Project. Realizing this was like the time when I was at Golf Land and a long haired blond walked in front me and my cousins. I was fourteen and dropped my putter. Wow. Imagine my horror when blondie turned around… revealing that beneath those tight stonewashed jeans was pimply faced 16 year old DUDE in a Metallica shirt. Not a chick, but a skinny stoner with blond hair! Crying game. So glad 1989 is over.
So I learned more about Rockwell. He voted for FDR all four times (yes he had four successful elections), then in ’48 opted for the Socialist candidate Norman Thomas. 20 years of socialism… That’s a track record. He also voted for Eisenhower, but I’ll chalk that up to death bed repentance or personal relationship… Roosevelt really came out of the progressive closet in 1944 offering a “second bill of rights” during his January State of the Union address. It was more of the same sweet rhetoric. FDR spoke how Rockwell drew.
Here’s the problem… I love Rockwell’s art. Luckily, no one really knew that he was a shill for FDR and big government. Propaganda basically.