Norman Rockwell by Laura Claridge
A Life

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Synopsis

Norman Rockwell’s tremendously successful, prolific career as a painter and illustrator has rendered him a twentieth-century American icon. However, the very popularity and accessibility of his idealized, nostalgic depictions of middleclass life have caused him to be considered not a serious artist but a “mere illustrator”–a disparagement only reinforced by the hundreds of memorable covers he drew for The Sunday Evening Post.

Symptomatic of critics’ neglect is the fact that Rockwell has never before been the subject of a serious critical biography. Based on private family archives and interviews and publishes to coincide with a major two-year travelling retrospective of his work, this book reveals for the first time the driven workaholic who had three complicated marriages and was a distant father —so different from the loving, all-American-dad image widely held to this day. Critically acclaimed author Laura Claridge also breaks new ground with her reappraisal of Rockwell’s art, arguing that despite his popular sentimental style, his artistry was masterful, complex, and far more manipulative than people realize.
 

About Laura Claridge

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Laura Claridge is the author of the biography of painter Tamara DeLempicka as well as books on British Romanticism, Modernism, gender, and psychoanalytic theory. A popular international lecturer, she was professor of English literature at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, for eleven years. She lives in New York City.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published December 18, 2001 by Random House. 592 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Claridge’s exegesis of paintings such as Playing Checkers points to his very real skills while pointing out characteristic but not accidental shortcomings: “The careful and complex spatial composition, the unsettling use of vivid scarlets and scalding yellow, the brilliantly painted surfaces,” sh...

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Publishers Weekly

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Chapters like "Urban Tensions, Pastoral Relief" are rife with two-ton sentences, like "Major life changes seemed consistently in Rockwell's purview during this period, including the professional leadership he took for granted," or "In 1935, Rockwell was offered a prestigious commission that remin...

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Star Tribune

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Further bolstering the effort to re-see Rockwell is Laura Claridge's hefty, fair-minded and gratifyingly balanced new biography, "Norman Rockwell."

Nov 10 2001 | Read Full Review of Norman Rockwell: A Life

Entertainment Weekly

At a moment of such intense patriotism, a biography of Norman Rockwell, the illustrator whose covers of The Saturday Evening Post were, for a generation of magazine readers, almost as reassuring as the American flag, would seem perfectly timed.

Nov 07 2001 | Read Full Review of Norman Rockwell: A Life

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