Pictures Framed by Patrick Toner

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Pictures Framed

Why the Critics Are Still Wrong About Norman Rockwell by Patrick Toner

Art critics have a longstanding tradition of loathing Norman Rockwell (1894–1978), but this tradition seems to be slowly dying out. It may remain outré in certain circles to admit to liking Rockwell, but more and more critics seem willing to make the admission regardless. The result is that Rockwell's work is being praised more widely than ever before.

But a thing that deserves praise may nevertheless be praised badly, and unfortunately that is what is happening in much of the new Rockwell criticism. Actually, it seems to me that it's happened in most Rockwell criticism, whenever produced, and whether positive or negative. I will not provide anything like an exhaustive survey of that literature here. Instead, I'll pick a few outstanding examples, ending with the most recent and visible Rockwell critic—Deborah Solomon.

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