In celebration of Norman Rockwell Museum’s 50th Anniversary, we look back at the many ways illustrators portrayed news events and reflected popular culture in 1969. Norman Rockwell’s own work reflected the changing times with his iconic depiction of the moon landing, an album cover he painted for rock musicians, and a tribute to the final issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Following one of the darkest years in post-War America, in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain, a presidential hopeful was assassinated, the U.S. military faced setbacks in the war in Vietnam with the Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre, and college students led campus protests, the events of 1969 symbolized a time of hope and contrasts.
The year began when a new president was inaugurated, promising to bring troops home from Vietnam. A “small step for a man” on the moon was followed by a gathering of 400,000 concertgoers reveling in “three days of peace and music” at Woodstock. The exhibition will include the famous concert poster as well as other inventive and psychedelic art as depicted in album covers and posters of bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, and the Grateful Dead.
Children experienced illustration through animation in the revolutionary new children’s television series, Sesame Street, and in Saturday morning cartoons with a dog named Scooby-Doo. Eric Carle and William Steig produced their award-winning children’s books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, while Frank Frazetta, Jack Gaughan, Jeff Jones, and others gained fame painting popular science fiction book covers.
The magazine National Lampoon was founded, providing a satirical view of current events for a new generation of readers. Created by writers and comedians who would go on to create Saturday Night Live and classic films such as Animal House, Caddyshack, and Vacation, the magazine relied heavily on illustrations by Edward Gorey, Boris Vallejo, R.O. Blechman, Roz Chast, Gahan Wilson, Neal Adams, and others.
This exhibition will combine original illustrations with vintage archival material to transport you to a groovier era. An additional gallery will revisit the early days of Norman Rockwell Museum, from its humble beginnings when it opened its doors at The Corner House in Stockbridge in May 1969 through its expansion into a vital center which informs the public of Norman Rockwell’s life and career, while showcasing the rich history of American illustration.
About the Artist: Artists include: Arnold Skolnick, Randy Tuten, D. Bread, Greg Irons, Eric Carle, William Steig, Frank Frazetta and Norman Rockwell among many others.
Exhibition Date: June 8 - October 27, 2019