In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America
February 13 to April 25, 2010
In Search of Norman Rockwell's America is a groundbreaking exhibition that pairs the work of American icon Norman Rockwell with images by award-winning photojournalist Kevin Rivoli. Unprecedented in concept, this exhibition features thirty-five black and white photographs alongside Rockwell originals: paintings, drawings, and limited artist’s prints.
Twenty years ago, while working as a photojournalist, Kevin Rivoli began taking “slice of life” photographs— images of family, community, patriotism, milestones, rites of passage, and people enjoying simple pleasures. It was not until many years later that he realized their similarity to Rockwell’s work, not only in mood and subject, but often in composition as well. Rockwell, who was, and remains, immensely popular in American culture, is often dismissed by critics who claimed his work was too idealistic, sentimental, and nostalgic. Rockwell was often accused of creating moments that didn’t exist, or, as one critic alleged, for “creating an America that never was and never will be.” Rockwell disagreed, saying he “was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.” Rivoli’s photographs disprove critics' claims that Rockwell created moments that never were, showing us that the America Rockwell painted is still alive and well.
In Search of Norman Rockwell's America will introduce Norman Rockwell and his work to a new generation while providing an opportunity for his existing fans to reconnect with this American icon. By pairing these celebrated, familiar works of art to photographs of real people, the exhibition reminds us to look for those moments of happiness, pride, mischief, courage, and patriotism that exist every day, not just in Rockwell paintings.
The exhibition tour follows the release of a book by the same title. This book, published by Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, features a significantly larger selection of Rivoli’s photographs juxtaposed with Rockwell images. The book features an essay by Dr. Andrew Mendelson, chair of the Department of Journalism at Temple University, as well as statements from collectors, friends, and admirers of Rockwell’s work, including President Jimmy Carter, Dolly Parton, Dick Clark, Lee Iacocca, Debbie Reynolds, Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell, Brian Williams, and Beau Bridges.
This exhibition has been organized by Kevin and Michele Rivoli in collaboration with International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.