Norman Rockwell and Aaron Copland: Great American Artists

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Norman Rockwell and Aaron Copland:
Great American Artists

20th Century Fine Arts
DeVry University

Norman Rockwell and Aaron Copland: Great American Artists
Illustrator Norman Rockwell along with composer and musician Aaron Copland were two well known American artists; each having an enormous impact on society with their art and music. Rockwell’s paintings and illustrations depicted the perfect and serene American way of life; a style for which scholars criticized him for. Copland was considered an outsider in many ways; he was the first American composer to give the United States and its people their own distinct musical language. Norman Rockwell and Aaron Copland each contributed a wonderfully unique and meaningful form of art and music, each are distinctly American in every sense of the word. Norman Rockwell’s The Four Freedoms

Norman Rockwell was one of the most well known American artists of the twentieth century. Rockwell’s style as an illustrator and painter was used purposely to portray a happy and carefree life that was full of American nostalgia; a clean and simple country lifestyle. As a young adult his goal was to land a cover on the Saturday Evening Post for which he eventually illustrated 321 covers in over 47 years. As a proud American, Rockwell was a tremendous supporter of his country and the United States military. When World War II arrived President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech to congress which defined the four essential freedoms for all Americans. Inspired by President Roosevelt’s words, Rockwell decided to illustrate the speech through four paintings called The Four Freedoms (Biography Today, 2010).

Norman Rockwell’s works generally touched upon the simple country life without controversy, fear, anger or ugliness involved. However with the outbreak of World War II Rockwell felt compelled to do something for his country. The Four Freedoms had both social and political effects on the war effort and brought Rockwell into a different realm from which people were used to. The Four Freedoms represented Freedom of Speech and expression throughout the world; Freedom from Fear in hoping for a reduction in armaments so that the world may live in peace; Freedom of Worship so that each person can worship their God in their own way; and Freedom from Want an economic understanding throughout the world that every nation will enjoy peace and security. Freedom of Speech is a painting that is represented by a working class man standing up to speak publicly. While Freedom from Fear portrays a couple tucking their children into bed; the father is holding a newspaper with a headline speaking of the war. Freedom of Worship portrays many different people in individual prayer; and finally the most well known of the four, Freedom from Want is a painting of an elderly woman placing a roasted turkey before her happy family. Each painting eventually made its way into the Saturday Evening Post and was accompanied by an essay written by different authors. Carlos Bulosan, a Filipino-American writer composed the essay for Freedom from Want and expressed so eloquently what he felt was the American ideal; “It is the dignity of the individual to live in a society of free men, where the spirit of understanding and belief exist; of understanding that all men are equal; that all men, whatever their color, race, religion or estate, should be given equal opportunity to serve themselves and each other according to their needs and abilities.” (Janairo, 2011).

After the Saturday Evening Post published The Four Freedoms in their magazine the paintings began a tour around the United States in an effort to support the war eventually raising more than $133 million in war bonds and stamps. Stephanie Plunkett, the deputy director and chief curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum stated that Rockwell as an artist was known for giving more attention to life’s simple moments. However, with...
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