(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) — On the surface they might seem like an odd couple from two different universes, but for the first time Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol will come face to face in “Inventing America: Rockwell and Warhol,” opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Saturday, June 10. With 100 works of art, a selection of archival materials, and objects relating to their work and lives, the exhibition will show how both of these internationally celebrated image-makers — among America’s most important visual communicators — created enduring icons and opened new ways of seeing.
Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, the exhibition is on view from Saturday, June 10, through October 29, 2017. It is curated by the museum’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director, Stephanie Plunkett, and its Curator of Exhibitions, Jesse Kowalski, formerly of the Andy Warhol Museum.
“Creative forces in American visual culture, Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol looked at the world from different vantage points to embrace innovation while satisfying, in unique and personal ways, the aspirations of a broad popular audience,” notes Plunkett.
“Technically brilliant and highly skilled visual communicators, Rockwell and Warhol both launched successful careers as illustrators at a young age,” adds Kowalski. “The artists both went on to present a hopeful and renewed vision of what it meant to be an American.”
Through close consideration of the trajectories of their lives and comparative pairings of their work, Inventing America traces each artist’s journey: from Rockwell’s urban childhood to his eventual prominence as the people’s artist, and from Warhol’s birth into poverty to his emergence as a commercial illustrator and his ascent to celebrity.
The exhibition will examine the output of both artists through the various phases of their careers. Representing their work in the field of commercial advertising, for example, Rockwell’s portraits of children happily eating Kellogg’s cereal are paired with Warhol’s stark, colorless Kellogg’s Corn Flakes silkscreen print.
In the political realm, Rockwell’s 1967 smiling portrait of Richard Nixon, created for Look magazine, contrasts with Warhol’s stark pastel-colored Vote McGovern print of Nixon, created on behalf of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. One of Rockwell’s most popular works, Freedom from Want, aligns comfortably with Warhol’s signature Campbell’s Soup Cans.
Other illuminating pairings include portraits of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and notable celebrities from the second half of the twentieth century. The exhibition will illuminate such themes as high/low and the elevation of the ordinary; mass media and the power of visual communications; the culture of celebrity; and the notion of public vs. private persona, among other topics.
As innovators, Rockwell and Warhol each created and adapted techniques to advance their art to new ends. Inventing America will include various objects they utilized in their artistic and technical processes, such as their projection devices and other personal effects that reflect their unique sensibilities, while archival materials and photographs will illuminate key aspects of their lives and careers.
The artworks included in Inventing America have been drawn from the collections of the Norman Rockwell Museum, The Andy Warhol Museum, RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, and private collectors,
Companion Exhibition/Also on View
James Warhola: Uncle Andy’s and Other Stories
June 10 – October 29, 2017
Illustrator James Warhola was greatly influenced by his uncle Andy. Warhola’s interest in science fiction, fantasy, and comics landed him in the middle of the publishing world, where he went on to illustrate more than 300 book covers for some of the most popular writers of the day. In 1980, the editors at Mad Magazine commissioned him to illustrate their paperback covers, and he became a regular contributor. He was also selected as one of the primary artists for the very popular Garbage Pail Kids card series. This exhibition, on view in conjunction with Inventing America, will explore Warhola’s body of work across genres. Original art from his award-winning children’s books, Uncle Andy’s and Uncle Andy’s Cats, will be featured.
About Norman Rockwell Museum
Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to education and art appreciation inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell. The Museum holds the world’s largest and most significant collection of art and archival materials relating to Rockwell’s life and work, while also preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting a growing collection of art by other American illustrators throughout history. The Museum engages diverse audiences through onsite and traveling exhibitions, as well as publications, arts and humanities programs, and comprehensive online resources.
The Museum’s dedication to a deepened understanding of the art of illustration has led to the formation of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. The first of its kind in the nation, this research institute supports sustained scholarship and establishes the Museum’s leadership in the vanguard of preservation and interpretation relating to this important aspect of American visual culture.
Located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life, the Museum is open seven days a week, year-round; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Museum hours from May through October are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays during the month of August; from November through April: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Rockwell’s studio is open May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum admission is $18, $17 for seniors, $10 for students, $6 for children and teens 6 to 18, and free for Museum members and children 5 and under.
Norman Rockwell Museum welcomes active U.S. military members with free admission throughout the year. Additionally, we are a Blue Star museum and offer active U.S. military personnel and their immediate family, complimentary admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Visit the Museum online at Norman Rockwell Museum.