Saturday, July 16, 2011

Norman Rockwell's The Connoisseur (1962)

The above piece, perhaps the greatest possible indictment against Abstract Expressionism ever imagined, is referenced in Steve Sailer's post on "the triumph of American art during the early Cold War years over stodgy Moscow-approved socialist realism as fashion" — Abstract Expressionism and the CIA.

Noting that the "imperial art was depersonalized (an asset in the global twilight struggle for the allegiance of peoples who all looked different), cool, enigmatic," Mr. Sailer says, "Rather than overpower the spectator, it undermined the viewer's self-confidence (as in Norman Rockwell's genial The Connoisseur)."

Was the great Norman Rockwell, then, unwittingly or not (not that it matters), an old school American anti-imperialist, à la Mark Twain? I'd like to think so, but as Mr. Sailer's first commenter says, "This is just weird." Whatever the case, it's every bit as great a parody as is the Circle Jerks' American Heavy Metal Weekend.

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

The CIA funded this sort of art?

This blows my mind!

9:14 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Not Rockwell's, but Pollack's.

Mind-blowing it is, but well documented.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Francis-Xavier said...

To my mind, this is something of which to be proud. The art world has always been manipulated by commercial and political interests, and all too many artists have proven to be dreams whose ideas lead to disaster.

This art faux is an unsurpassed parody of petit bourgeois babbitry, and I'm sure the brighter people involved in this coup must have enjoyed themselves greatly.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I feel as if I'm reading something in a parallel universe. You are still in So. Korea and not North, right? Just kidding.

2:14 AM  
Blogger jeverettk said...

Nothing about this painting says parody to me. At least not in the traditional sense where connotations of mocking derision are intentional and biting.

The visual effect of Rockwell's treatment of the idea of a Pollack painting is warm, bright, and sympathetic and sentimental.

There's a sense in which the Rockwell says of the Pollack, "Oh, yes, how funny it is to see this man staring at a painting of nothing as though he's some kind of art expert, so funny that you should step out of the frame and look how it has captured your own attention as well. Or isn't it really beautiful? I thought so, I painted it, anyways"

3:28 AM  

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