My son Thomas fancies himself an artist. He works in watercolors and pastels mostly (easier to clean up, you see), and his subject matter is narrowly focused—actually, it’s mostly dinosaurs. But his love of art can’t be denied and so, to broaden his horizons a little bit, I often take him to museums and galleries to see what the big boys (and girls) can do.
So far, our gallery visits have tended to be quick. My young art lad breezes past the modern stuff, the abstract works. He’ll linger a little on Impressionist paintings and Renaissance art. But in fact, the only time I’ve ever seen him stop dead and stare at a piece of art was in the halls of our offices here, which are liberally decorated with prints of classic Post covers.
The one that caught his eye is called The Shiner. It features a girl sporting a black eye, a bandaged knee, and rumpled clothes from a schoolyard fight, but she still looks fresh and pleased with herself nonetheless. My son studied the girl’s face intently—I think it’s fair to say he developed a little crush on her. Then he looked at all the other details—the girl’s loose hair ribbon, her unlaced shoes, the various items on the wall above her, the expressions of the grownups just inside the door. Finally, his eyes settled on the artist’s signature, one that’s only too familiar to Post readers and generations of Americans.
“Who’s this Norman Rockwell?” Thomas finally asked. “He’s pretty good!”
It’s always exciting (and a little funny) to witness a new generation in the act of discovering something that you’ve known all your life was wonderful. And as we prepared this issue’s cover story (page 30), which celebrates the Post’s most celebrated artist, my son’s awed appraisal stuck with me. I found myself absorbed in illustrations I’d seen a thousand times, viewing them with fresh eyes, seeing details I’d never noticed before, and coming away with new admiration for the artist and his work.
We hope you have the same reaction, and that you share this issue with someone who’s perhaps not as familiar with the man we call “America’s artist.” But once they have a look, I’m confident they’ll agree: That Norman Rockwell, he is pretty good.
Stephen C. George
Editor-in-Chief, The Saturday Evening Post