Monday, 1 April 2013

Rockwell’s April Fool

I recently made some disparaging comments about Norman Rockwell and his lack of visual imagination and spatial sensibility. In this cover design from 1948 he makes a massive effort to put his imagination to work but the result is less than a triumph. The mechanistic permutations of body parts have produced an image that is mildly puzzling rather than spine-chilling. All the ingredients are present – sinister shopkeeper, hybrid creatures, animated puppets, physical incongruities – but the absence of atmosphere and genuinely diabolic inspiration completely wastes their potential. What should have been oppressively claustrophobic looks like a mildly boring but harmless tableau. It might seem ungenerous to point to Rockwell’s limitations but in the context of all the uncritical adulation that seems to surround him it feels like a duty. 

No comments: