As with many of his covers, Rockwell’s Connoisseur (January 13, 1962) draws its humor from a portrait of the old confronting the new. In this case, a gentleman of old-fashioned tastes — evidenced by the gray homburg and suit, matching gloves, and umbrella — contemplates the dizzying splatters of a painting in the style of Jackson Pollock. The painting seems to nearly overwhelm him.
Many assumed Rockwell was mocking the seeming absurdity of modern art, proving what many Americans were saying at the time: “Why, I could paint better than that.”
But in fact, Rockwell’s painting was intended as a tribute to modern art, not a criticism of it. Referring to this painting, he said, “If I were young now I might paint that way myself.”
And, in fact, others judged the abstract portion of Rockwell’s cover highly. Entered under a pseudonym in a New York art exhibition, it won first prize. And noted avant-garde artist Willem De Kooning said of his faux Pollock, “Square inch by square inch, it’s better than Jackson.”
This article is featured in the January/February 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Norman Rockwell / © SEPS
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