When I was starting out as a young artist in the year this book was published it was all Warhol, Rauschenberg, Johns, Dine, etc, signalling the end of Abstract Expressionism and the birth of Pop. And so Rockwell was viewed as little more than a cartoonist and, frankly, a bit of a joke not to be taken seriously. Nor should he be. His art is bursting with gentle humour but what came as a revelation to me when I began to study his work was his perceptive understanding of human nature with the brilliant technical means to depict it in a seemingly effortless way.
I can find nothing to dislike or criticise about this artist who is loved more than any other in his own country and for the rest of us portrays a somewhat idealised - but never without a touch of irony - view of what is or was best in his country.
Nor was he afraid of dealing with what was, 40 years ago, the sensitive subject of race. His picture of the black kids moving into a white neighbourhood is astonishingly rendered.
My copy of this excellent book was a tad faded which seemed somehow appropriate for what is, alas, a portrait of an America which has now faded from view.
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