Temporary exhibitions

Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms

From June 7 to October 27, 2019.

As part of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, the Caen Mémorial Museum in Normandy will display a one of a kind exhibition devoted to the American painter Norman Rockwell.

Book now your visit of the exhibition on our online ticketing => HERE

In partnership with the Norman Rockwell Museum, this exhibition will undergo a tour, whose only presentation outside of the United States will take place at the Caen Mémorial Museum in Normandy, France.

Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms speech

On January 6, 1941, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave one of the most important speeches of the 20th century. It was the "Four Freedoms" speech.

The U.S. was not yet at war, although Europe and Asia were. Inspired by this speech, Norman Rockwell produced four paintings to illustrate the “Four Freedoms”. During the war, these paintings travelled the United States, raising 130 million dollars to support the war effort.

These four paintings, which are among the most famous and important artworks of 20th-century America, will leave the U.S. for the first time ever. Along with other paintings, they will be shown at the Caen Memorial for the 75th anniversary of the Allied Landings and the Battle of Normandy. The D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, heralded the liberation of Western Europe. The Battle of Normandy led to the collapse of the German army on the Western front and the liberation of Paris.

Discover the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's January 6, 1941 speech on video => HERE

© Unknown Photographer, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s annual message to Congress January 6, 1941. Digital reproduction © Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Hyde Park, New York. Hyde Park/National Archives.

Norman Rockwell at the Caen Mémorial Museum

From June 7 to October 27, 2019.

In partnership with the Norman Rockwell Museum, this exhibition will undergo a tour, whose only presentation outside of the United States will take place at the Caen Mémorial Museum in Normandy, France.

In cooperation with the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Caen Memorial is presenting this exceptional exhibition for five months.

Before being shown at Caen, the exhibition was on view at the New York Historical Society, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and the George Washington University Museum in Washington, D.C. After travelling to Caen, it will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Its presence in France is a major Franco- American cultural event of 2019.

During the opening of the exhibition in New York on May 23, 2018, the Mayor of Caen and President of the Memorial, Joël Bruneau, recalled the many collaborations of the Caen Memorial with American museums and said: “In his famous speech of January 1941, President Roosevelt gave a vision of a free world that was rid of totalitarianism. Unfortunately his speech remains relevant today. So do the paintings of Norman Rockwell”.

In order to host this exhibition in perfect conditions of preservation and security, the Caen Memorial and the City of Caen have undertaken significant renovations. The 15,000-square-foot temporary exhibition area will now meet international standards for exhibitions of this significance.

© The Caen Mémorial Museum.

A story of America

The exhibition "Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms" is also the story of the modern history of America from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Before becoming a painter, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was the famous illustrator of the Saturday Evening Post, and would have a 40-year relationship with the paper. In this role, he observed American society with kindness and even tenderness, something that would at times be held against him.

Near the end of his life, in the 1960s, in the midst of a moral crisis in America, he covered topical subjects such as racism, the Vietnam War, and civil rights for Look magazine. His paintings would become more serious and above all more committed. One of the most important paintings in the exhibition, “The Problem We All Live With,” published by Look in 1964, denounces racial segregation in America. It was inspired by Ruby Bridges, who was the first African- American child to integrate a white school in New Orleans. This exceptional painting, along with the dress of the little girl who was its model, will be shown in Caen. Original letters of support or containing insults that Rockwell received at the time will also be displayed.

The exhibition covers this entire period and thus provides an understanding of a story of America through the 50 works that are shown. Norman Rockwell died on November 8, 1978 in his town of Stockbridge, where he is buried alongside his family.

In this small American town, far from the bustle of New York City, he lived and worked, often finding models or subjects for his paintings among his fellow citizens.

© Norman Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio. Norman Rockwell Museum Collection.
Norman Rockwell

Four paintings for the first time out of the United States

Speaking of the Four Freedoms, Rockwell said: "It was a job that should have been tackled by Michelangelo". The painter devoted 7 months to producing these paintings.

The Four Freedoms

These four paintings have their own special story.
During the war, Norman Rockwell, like Tex Avery, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Clark Gable, and Arthur Szyk, participated in the war effort.
Thanks to these four paintings that travelled America during World War II - the “War Bond Shows” - 132 million dollars were raised.
Norman Rockwell painted them - not without some difficulty - in 1943, at the height of American military involvement in Asia and soon in Europe.

1. Freedom of Speech, 1943

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

To illustrate this freedom, Norman Rockwell was inspired by a scene that he had recently witnessed: during a town-hall meeting, a man stood up to speak about a topic on the agenda. It was regarding the closing of a school. He did not obtain the agreement of the room, but the other citizens who were present listened to him respectfully, without interrupting him.
Rockwell used one of his neighbors as a model for this man, who represented freedom of speech. His leather jacket will also be on display.

2. Freedom of Worship, 1943

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

"Freedom of Worship" represented a real challenge for Rockwell, for religion was a deeply personal subject for him. He wanted to produce a painting that would express values of unity and offer the vision of a world without religious discrimination.
His original plan was for a scene in a barbershop in the country. He found this approach too stereotypical and not satisfying. So he abandoned this earlier version.
The painting that we know today deals with the act of faith. The painting shows people of different beliefs in a moment of reflection, emphasizing the idea of an American community. Norman Rockwell believed that, after facial expressions, hands went a long way to communicate emotion in a painting. The painting “Freedom of Worship” is an illustration of this principle.

3. Freedom from Want, 1943

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

In this painting, a well-off family shares a Thanksgiving meal. On the left side of the table, we can see Norman Rockwell’s wife, Mary, who died in 1959, and across from her, the painter’s mother. The other figures are residents of Arlington whom the painter chose to complete the composition of his painting.
Though an optimist by nature, Norman Rockwell did have doubts in this case. Was he right to paint such a big turkey when many in Europe were starving, invaded, or deported? While critics pointed out the over-abundance of food in this painting, they also noted that it emphasizes family, togetherness, and safety, and they agreed that abundance was the best response to the idea of need.

4. Freedom from Fear, 1943

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

This is the last painting in the "Four Freedoms" series. It was painted during the bombing of London. Notice that the father holds a newspaper with headlines about these events. The doll lying on the floor recalls the children of Europe, deprived of safety.
This painting, which Rockwell did not consider an artwork of exceptional power, found a new timeliness after the attacks on the World Trade Center. At that time, the New York Times printed "Freedom from Fear" on the front page, substituting Norman Rockwell’s headline with one referring to the attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

© Photograph of Norman Rockwell with “Freedom of Speech” painting at Four Freedoms War Bond Show, 1943. Photographer unknown. Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. © Norman Rockwell Family Agency. All rights reserved.

The artworks shown

"The Problem We All Live With" is one of Rockwell’s best-known paintings.

In it, we see a little African-American girl in a white dress going to school, escorted by federal marshals whose faces cannot be seen, in order to emphasize the face of the girl. This little girl is none other than Ruby Bridges, the first African American child to integrate an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960. This painting transformed the classic image of Rockwell’s works. Here, the artist made a choice to depict the dramatic reality of the racism that characterized part of American society at the time.

This painting marked a real turning point in the career of the artist, who was then 70 years old. From that time on, he wanted to use his art for the cause of justice.

"That day, being in the car when I turned the corner, I just assumed that I was in the middle of a parade. When I think about it today, that was the innocence of a child. I think that protected me, not knowing." Ruby Bridges Hall

© Barak Obama & Ruby Bridges Hall. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza. All rights reserved.
Norman Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio move

Exhibition partners

Norman Rockwell Museum
Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the museum, built just yards away from Norman Rockwell’s studio (located in a house that was moved to this location in 1986), 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 an archival materials relating to Rockwell’s and work.

Caen Mémorial 
Every year, The Caen Mémorial museum produces and displays two to three temporary exhibitions on subjects that complement its permanent exhibition on World War II and the Cold War by contributing cultural, research-related, or educational expertise. “Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms” will be the first exhibition of paintings of this scope in thirty years.

Leadership support for “Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms” is provided by:
Jay Alix, the Alix Foundation, and the George Lucas Family Foundation.

National Presenting Sponsor is:

Major support provided by:
An anonymous foundation, Michael Bakwin, Helen Bing, Elephant Rock Foundation, Ford Foundation, Heritage Auctions, Annie and Ned Lamont, Lawrence and Marilyn Matteson, National Endowment for the Arts, and Ted Slavin.

Additional Support provided by:
Anthony and Susan Consigli ; Ralph and Audrey Friedner ; Louise Holland ; Our GoFundMe Supporters.

Media Sponsors:
The Saturday Evening Post and the Norman Rockwell Family Agency.

© Norman Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio move, 1986. Photographer unknown, Norman Rockwell Museum Collection.

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