- Sebastian Smee's Blog
Surveying the art scene in Boston and beyond
It's an understandable impulse, since no-one can deny that the fields of art and politics overlap.
But there are those who would like them to be perfectly congruent, and they are often dismayed and confused when told that, say, their favorite avant-garde artist was adamantly against the idea of a social safety net (Francis Bacon), that the 20th century's most protean artistic inventor was an apologist for Stalin (Pablo Picasso), that their favorite Impressionists were vilely anti-Semitic (Degas and Renoir) or that America's cheesiest, most jingoistic propagandist was also a champion of Civil Rights.
That would be Norman Rockwell (though, of course, he was much more than a cheesy propagandist).
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge has just announced that President Obama has asked it if the White House can borrow one of its most treasured paintings, Rockwell's "The Problem We All Live With," to mark the 50th Anniversary of Ruby Bridges's momentous walk to school, which marked the beginning of the racial integration of the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.
Rockwell's painting was made for the cover of the January 14, 1964, issue of "Look" magazine. It's one of his most powerful, courageous, and ardent pictures.
The museum has agreed, of course, to the request. The painting will be on display at the White House until October 31.