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Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms

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.