Norman Rockwell: Illustrator and Activist

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Born in New York City, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was both an illustrator and an activist. Most famous for his Four Freedoms paintings, the creation of cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, and his work with The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell surely had a lustrous career.

Originally producing work for magazines such as Life, Literary Digest, and Country Gentleman, it wasn’t until 1916 that Rockwell painted his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post.  The magazine considered him the “greatest show window in America.” Over the next 47 years, Rockwell produced 321 covers for the magazine.

Inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1943, Rockwell created the Four Freedoms paintings. His interpretation of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear were incredibly popular. The Post and the U.S. Treasury Department sponsored the exhibition, which, through the sale of war bonds, eventually raised more than $130 million for the war effort.

During his 10-year association with Look magazine, Rockwell was able to express his deepest concerns regarding civil rights, America’s war on poverty, and the exploration of space. Just before his unfortunate death in 1977, Norman Rockwell was granted the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Too see more of Norman Rockwell’s work, click here.

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“Freedom of Speech” | “Freedom of Worship”
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“Freedom from Fear” | “Freedom from Want”
Author: Kayla Harris for Graphis

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