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Norman Rockwell: The Underside of Innocence


Norman Rockwell: The Underside of Innocence Cover

ISBN13: 9780226314402
ISBN10: 0226314405
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Norman Rockwell's scenes of everyday small-town life are among the most indelible images in all of twentieth-century art. While opinions of Rockwell vary from uncritical admiration to sneering contempt, those who love him and those who dismiss him do agree on one thing: his art embodies a distinctively American style of innocence.

In this sure-to-be controversial book, Richard Halpern argues that this sense of innocence arises from our reluctance — and also Rockwell's — to acknowledge the often disturbing dimensions of his works. Rockwell's paintings frequently teem with perverse acts of voyeurism and desire but contrive to keep these acts invisible — or rather, hidden in plain sight, available for unacknowledged pleasure but easily denied by the viewer.

Rockwell emerges in this book, then, as a deviously brilliant artist, a remorseless diagnostician of the innocence in which we bathe ourselves, and a continuing, unexpected influence on contemporary artists. Far from a banal painter of the ordinary, Halpern argues, Rockwell is someone we have not yet dared to see for the complex creature he is: a wholesome pervert, a knowing innocent, and a kitschy genius.

Provocative but judicious, witty but deeply informed, Norman Rockwell is a book rich in suggestive propositions and eye-opening details — one that will change forever the way we think about this American icon and his works.


"Art historians know that Rockwell wasn't the naif that he pretended to be in interviews....But Halpern goes further than anyone else." The Boston Globe

About the Author

Richard Halpern is professor of English at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author several books, including Shakespeare Among the Moderns and Shakespeare's Perfume.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



A Note to Readers

1 Manufacturing Innocence

2 Ways of Not Seeing

3 Phallic Women, Adam's Apples, and the Fullness of the World

4 and#8220;That Kind of Manand#8221;

5 The History of Girls

6 Painting: A Middlebrow Art

7 Rockwell's Heirs



What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

sharlaksmith, March 13, 2007 (view all comments by sharlaksmith)
It's in the eyes of the can see darkness even in the brightest light! Every artist conveys their inner light in their work...Norman produced an amazing look at every day life...I find it interesting yet sad that we always look for the darkness...when we should be basking in the LIGHT!!!

It's good to have an open mind...that fills us with lifes entire experience. Clearly Mr. Halpern takes the time to look deeper...and gives us reason to take a harder look at all that is good!
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Helen Cota, March 10, 2007 (view all comments by Helen Cota)
Maybe you think those Norman Rockwell paintings are wholesome slices of Americana. Think again. According to Halpern, they are full of sinister and distinctly unwholesome images. Agree with him or not, you will never look at Norman Rockwell illustrations the same way again. I won't. (Shudder.)
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Product Details

Halpern, Richard
University of Chicago Press
Individual Artist
American - General
Rockwell, Norman
History - Modern (Late 19th Century to 1945)
Individual Artists - General
Criticism and interpretation
Rockwell, Norman - Psychology
Art-History and Criticism
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
12 color plates, 40 halftones
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Artists
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism

Norman Rockwell: The Underside of Innocence New Hardcover
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$26.50 In Stock
Product details 218 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226314402 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Art historians know that Rockwell wasn't the naif that he pretended to be in interviews....But Halpern goes further than anyone else."
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