OLD LYME, CT.-This summer, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, presents beloved paintings by legendary artist Norman Rockwell paired with works of contemporary illustrators in the exhibition entitled, Picturing Health: Norman Rockwell and the Art of Illustration, on view July 7 through October 14, 2007. The exhibitions theme of health and well being is reflected in Rockwells elaborate, painterly narratives created for medical advertisements in the last century and in the current editorial art from todays top illustrators. The exhibition encourages visitors to examine changing perspectives on health in American society and reflect upon their own attitudes toward health and fitness. Picturing Health: Norman Rockwell and the Art of Illustration was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The presentation of this exhibition at the Florence Griswold Museum is made possible through the generous support of Pfizer Inc.
Arts and Health in American Society
From Norman Rockwells portrayals of kindly country doctors to contemporary illustrators wry commentaries on the modern healthcare system, artists have long been inspired by Americans quest for better health. The exhibition features rare, original paintings by Rockwell from the Pfizer Collection. These paintings, considered to be among the finest examples of Rockwells advertising commissions, were created for the marketing campaigns of The Upjohn Company, Lambert Pharmacal, and American Optical between 1929 and 1961. Similar to the work he created for The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwells advertising images inspired Americans to view themselves and their physicians with optimism, and presented the notion that health is affected as much by our emotional lives as by our physical well being.
In addition to Rockwells paintings, Picturing Health includes original works by twelve of todays most respected illustrators. The contemporary artists represented in the exhibition are Melinda Beck, Cathie Bleck, Guy Billout, Juliette Borda, Cora Lynn Deibler, Teresa Fasolino, Frances Jetter, Gregory Manchess, Peter de Sève, Whitney Sherman, Elwood Smith, and Mark Ulriksen. Their images, first published in Healthy Living, Mens Health, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, among others, present perspectives on many of the same health-related subjects that Rockwell explores more than 50 years ago. Rockwells compassionate doctor-patient relationship for example, is echoed in Cathie Blecks 1990 scratchboard illustration for the Chicago Tribune entitled, The Touch. The work accompanied an article discussing the impact of close doctor-patient relationships on health and healing. In contrast to Rockwells nostalgic vision of medicine and health, however, other contemporary illustrations reflect the trends of educating oneself through the Internet, seeking alternative remedies, caring for the elderly, and addressing the challenges of insurance. Although healthcare today is certainly more complex than in Rockwell's day, both he and the contemporary illustrators encourage viewers to admire doctors as empathetic caregivers and to embrace modern technology's contributions to health," said Amy Kurtz Lansing, curator of the Florence Griswold Museum.