Norman Rockwell: Process to the Post

Dates: August 8 – November 11, 2018
Location: Gallery 22

This installation highlights Norman Rockwell’s Study for Breaking Home Ties, a charcoal drawing that served as a preparatory study for the cover of the September 25, 1954, issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The drawing depicts a weathered rancher and his son sitting on the running board of an old pickup truck, waiting for a train that will carry the son off to college. As a father who struggled with “an empty feeling” when his own sons left home, Rockwell considered Breaking Home Ties autobiographical. The drawing and the related Post cover are an exploration of the underlying emotional tensions between father, son, and family dog, as they come to terms with the boy’s imminent departure.

The installation examines the role that charcoal drawings such as Study for Breaking Home Ties played in Rockwell’s process for developing his magazine covers. During his prolific career, Rockwell created over 800 cover designs for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Boys’ Life, and Look, as well as scores of illustrations for advertisements, calendars, and popular novels. He was awarded his first Saturday Evening Post cover in 1916 at the age of 22, and he went on to become one of the journal’s most popular artists. Rockwell strove to create illustrations that grabbed the reader’s attention, told stories in an easy-to-understand manner, and offered an idealized view of what he (and his publishers) considered the quintessential American life. His commitment to accuracy in his paintings and illustrations led him to adopt a painstaking process for developing his cover illustrations for the Post.

Visit the Speed to learn more about Rockwell’s artistic process and the integral role that highly finished charcoal drawings such as Study for Breaking Home Ties played in the development of his Saturday Evening Post covers.


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Voices: Kim Spence, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Speed Art Museum
Charlie Carr, Dr. Mary Pike, and Sarah OKoon

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Rob Collier
Produced by Amber Thieneman

The display of Rockwell’s Study for Breaking Home Ties is part of the Speed’s continuing partnership with the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.