Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving

The Four Freedoms theme was derived from the 1941 State of the Union Address by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered to the 77th United States Congress on January 6, 1941. During the speech he identified four essential human rights (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want and Freedom From Fear) that should be universally protected. Roosevelt’s message was as follows: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.”

This series is a cornerstone of a retrospective of the career of Rockwell,who was the most widely known contemporary commercial artist of the mid 20th century, but who failed to achieve critical acclaim commensurate with his popularity. These are perhaps Rockwell’s most well-known works of art, and they were the most widely distributed paintings ever produced by some accounts. At one time they were commonly displayed in post offices, schools, clubs, railroad stations, and a variety of public and semi-public buildings. Critical review of these images, like most of Rockwell’s work, has not been entirely positive. Rockwell’s idyllic and nostalgic approach to regionalism made him a popular illustrator but a lightly regarded fine artist during his lifetime. These paintings generally are viewed with this sentiment. However, he has created a niche in the enduring social fabric with the Freedom from Want image which is emblematic of what is now known as the “Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.”

 
 

Freedom From Want, Normal Rockwell.  Published in the March 6, 1943, issue of The Saturday Evening Post with a matching essay by Carlos Bulosan as part of the Four Freedoms series.

 
 

Poster Version

 
 

The painting was included as the cover image of the 1946 book Norman Rockwell, Illustrator, written when Rockwell was “at the height of his fame as America’s most popular illustrator.” Although the image was popular in the United States it caused resentment in Europe where the masses were enduring hardship at the time.

Rockwell had sketched the Four Freedoms in charcoal and sought a commission from the Office of War Information, but was denied, “The last war you illustrators did the posters. This war we’re going to use fine artists men, real artists.” However, Saturday Evening Post editor, Ben Hibbs, recognized the potential of the set and encouraged him to produce them right away. Rockwell claimed to have painted the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, and said that unlike Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship, this painting was not difficult to execute. He depicted the setting of his own living room with the painting and relied on neighbors for advice as well as critical commentary and their service as his models.

 
 

 In The Walt Disney Company film Lilo & Stitch (Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, 2002) , a montage of images prior to the end credits includes an homage of Freedom from Want featuring the characters of the film

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The Blonde and the Brunette

Marilyn Monroe in Jackie wig. Photos: Bern Stern, 1962

 
 

MARILYN AND JACKIE’S 11-YEAR ITCH

Text by Wendy Leigh

The Observer,  Sunday 22 June 2003

 
 

At first glance they couldn’t have been more different. Jackie, the pristine American princess born into East Coast high society, who glided effortlessly into marriage with multi-millionaire’s son Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and then into the White House as First Lady. And Marilyn, the bleached blonde bombshell from the wrong side of the tracks, illegitimate daughter of a mother who went insane and a father she never knew, with a sexual radiance so white hot that it catapulted her from pleasuring ageing Hollywood tycoons, on to the silver screen and into immortality.

Yet while researching my novel, The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy, I discovered that, like many wives and mistresses who share the same man, in reality Marilyn and Jackie were sisters under the sheets. It became clear to me that Marilyn was Jackie’s equal and that her illicit affair with Kennedy was significant. For years, that affair has been was painted as brief, fumbling – a one-night stand which might, mainly because of Kennedy’s fascination with Marilyn’s dizzying status as America’s reigning sex goddess, have only temporarily transcended his usual hit-and-run amorous encounters.

But their liaison was far from brief. The future President met the actress in 1951, at the house of Marilyn’s agent and Jack’s friend, Charles K Feldman. Kennedy was an up-and-coming senator, a bachelor playboy whose political campaign was funded by his father’s vast fortune. Marilyn was on the brink of stardom. Their affair was to last 11 years, ending with one final meeting in Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel just hours after Marilyn had sung ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ in such an erotically charged way that the columnist Dorothy Kilgallen noted: ‘It seemed like Marilyn was making love to the President in front of 40 million Americans.’

If their affair lasted for 11 years, it was also far from superficial, as a cache of letters from Kennedy to Marilyn, now in the possession of Marilyn’s heirs, attests. Monroe was Kennedy’s long-term mistress, a serious rival to his wife.

Yet below the surface, Marilyn and Jackie shared many similarities. Growing up, they both adored Gone With the Wind, worshipped the Empress Josephine and idolized Clark Gable – Marilyn kissing his picture goodnight as a child, fantasizing that he was her father, and Jackie insisting that her own father, Jack Bouvier, was Gable’s double. Both women retained whispery, baby-doll voices as adults, often playing ‘Daddy’s girl’ with the men in their lives. Even when she was in her late fifties, Jackie simulated a little-girl quality around Maurice Templesman, the last man in her life. And Marilyn actually addressed her third husband, Arthur Miller, as ‘Daddy’. Both had difficulties conceiving a child.

They shared a love of salacious gossip. According to Truman Capote, Jackie was set on discovering what a mutual friend was like in bed. Capote was also Marilyn’s confidant of choice, revealing to him how she witnessed Errol Flynn playing ‘You Are my Sunshine‘ on the piano with his penis.

Naturally, their jetset lifestyles rocketed Marilyn and Jackie into the same orbit. When Jackie met Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gabor gave her skin-care advice. Marilyn met Zsa Zsa in less felicitous circumstances, on the set of All About Eve, in which she starred with George Sanders – with Gabor, his then wife, ever present. Zsa Zsa’s reasons were clear. She later recalls George telling her: ‘The doorbell rings and there stands Marilyn in a beautiful sable coat. I asked her what she wanted and she opened the coat. Marilyn was stark naked underneath. Who am I not to make love to a woman like that?’

Marilyn and Jackie each met and flirted with Krushchev and Sukarno; Aristotle Onassis acted as a go-between for Prince Rainier when Rainier wanted to marry Marilyn. And while Onassis never met Marilyn, he did, of course, meet Jackie, whereupon, according to Onassis’s biographer, Willi Frischauer, ‘he compared her to a diamond – cool, sharp at the edges, fiery and hot beneath the surface’.

Jackie and Marilyn both favoured Chanel; Jackie wore Chanel designs, Marilyn slept in Chanel No 5. Their hairdresser of choice was Kenneth, who created Jackie’s trademark bouffant, and advised Marilyn to dye her pubic hair blonde so that it didn’t show through her clinging clothes. Marilyn and Jackie shared a number of lovers and admirers. British actor Peter Lawford, Jack Kennedy’s friend and sometime pimp, was one of them.

Robert Mitchum also appealed to both women. Jackie enthused that he had always been her favourite movie star. Marilyn, who co-starred with Mitchum in River of No Return, said: ‘Mitchum is one of the most interesting, fascinating men I’ve ever known’, but drew the line at a threesome with Mitchum and his stand-in, Tim Wallace: ‘Ooh,’ said Marilyn, ‘that would kill me.’ ‘Well, nobody’s died from it yet,’ Wallace snickered. ‘Ooh, I bet they have!’ Marilyn told him, ‘but in the papers they just say the girl died of natural causes.’

After Kennedy’s death, rumours raged that Jackie and Frank Sinatra had an affair. Their relationship dated back to the Inauguration Ball, to which Frank escorted Jackie. Watching the footage of that night, the chemistry between them is palpable. Marilyn, in turn, had a sporadic affair with Sinatra. One night, according to her maid, Lena Pepitone: ‘She absent-mindedly wandered downstairs with nothing on to look for Frank. She said that she was lonely and just wanted to talk to him. After walking through one empty room after another, she finally opened the door to the smoking-room where the card game was in session. Frank was livid. “He yanked me to one side and ordered me to get my ‘fat ass’ back upstairs.” How dare she embarrass him in front of his friends.’

Marlon Brando dazzled Marilyn and Jackie. He met Marilyn in 1955; there was a strong attraction between them; she called him Carlo, reporting that he was sweet and tender. In the late Sixties, Jackie had dinner with Brando at a Washington club and danced with him afterwards. According to one of Brando’s friends: ‘Jackie pressed her thighs against his and did everything she could to arouse him. They talked about going away on a skiing vacation together, just the two of them. Brando could feel Jackie’s breath on his ear. He felt Jackie expected him to make a move, to try and take her to bed.’ However, having drunk too much, Brando was fearful he might be impotent, so made his apologies and left.

Apart from sharing President Kennedy’s bed, Marilyn and Jackie both had affairs with his brother, Bobby. Jackie’s affair with Bobby, in the years following Jack’s assassination, has only recently been revealed by C David Heymann in his biography RFK . ‘Socialite Mary Harrington was staying at a house next to the Kennedy compound in Palm Beach in 1964. “I was looking out a window on the third floor and there was Jackie, sunbathing in the grass wearing a black bikini bottom with no top. Then Bobby, wearing a white swimsuit, emerged from the house and knelt by her side. As they began to kiss, he placed one hand on her breast and the other between her legs. After a few minutes, she stood up and wrapped a towel around her. Together, Bobby and Jackie disappeared into the house.'”

Ultimately, it appears that the wife was as libidinous as the mistress. Yet neither of them was as highly sexed as the man in their lives. Jack Kennedy insisted that if he didn’t have sex on a daily basis he would get a headache, and claimed: ‘I’m not through with a woman until I’ve had her three ways’. But according to Jackie’s friend, Peter Duchin: ‘Jackie was very, very romantic, but not sexy’, while Peter Lawford alluded to Marilyn’s ‘romanticism’.

Perhaps it is natural that, from the start, Marilyn and Jackie were enthralled by one another. When she was working as a young reporter in Washington, Jackie invariably asked men: ‘If you had a date with Marilyn Monroe, what would you talk about?’ And Marilyn’s fascination with Jackie was such that she even dressed as her for a Life magazine shoot, donning a black wig and pearls for the occasion.

When Marilyn died at the age of 36 in 1962, Jackie, the wronged wife, declared sombrely: ‘She will go on eternally.’ Jackie herself died on 19 May 1994, the thirty-second anniversary of the night on which Marilyn Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ to her lover, Jack Kennedy.

Leopard-skin Pillbox Hat

“Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat…”

Bob Dylan

 
 

Photo: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Washington, 1961

 
 

The always stunning Audrey Hepburn. Promotional picture and still from Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963)

 
 

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” is a song by Bob Dylan, from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. The song melodically and lyrically resembles Lightnin’ Hopkins “Automobile Blues” (1962)

Dylan’s lyrics affectionately ridicule a female “fashion victim” who wears a leopard skin pillbox hat. The pillbox hat was a popular, highly fashionable ladies’ hat in the United States in the early to mid-1960s, and was most famously worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Dylan satirically crosses this accessory’s high-fashion image with leopard-skin material, perceived as considerably more “downmarket” and “vulgar”. The song was also written and released long after pillbox hats had been at the height of fashion, something that was very apparent to listeners at the time.

 
 

 
 

The song has been widely speculated to be inspired by Edie Sedgwick, an actress/model known for her association with Andy Warhol. Sedgwick is also often suspected as being an inspiration for other Dylan songs of the time, particularly some from Blonde on Blonde. Beck, Bibbe Hansen Warhol superstar’s son , released a cover on the 2009 charity album War Child Presents Heroes, and also performed the song during the closing credits of the 81st Academy Awards.

An Ancient Emblem of Liberty

Jacqueline Kennedy en route to lunch with President and Mrs. Charles de Gaulle, Paris, May 31, 1961

 
 

Jackie KennedyJacqueline Kennedy during her official visit to Paris, on May 1961. She was wearing Alaskine (wool and silk) created by Oleg Cassini and pill-box hat created by Roy Halston Frowick

 
 

Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963, was well known for her “signature pillbox hats” from circa 1961 to 1963

 
 

PREDECESSORS

 
 

Memorial Stained Glass window, Class of 1934, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston Ontario, Canada

 
 

A pillbox hat is a small woman’s hat with a flat crown and straight, upright sides, and no brim. Historically, the pillbox hat was military headgear, often including a chin strap, and it can still be seen on ceremonial occasions in some countries, especially from those which are of the Commonwealth of Nations. For example, the Royal Military College of Canada dress uniform includes a pillbox hat.

 
 

Castor wearing a pileus-like helmet, detail from a scene representing the gathering of the Argonauts

 
 

Odysseus offering wine to the Cyclops. Ancient statue in the Vatican, Rome

 
 

During the late Roman Empire, the pillbox, then known as the pileus or “Pannonian cap” was worn by Roman soldiers. The pileus was especially associated with the manumission of slaves. who wore it upon their liberation. It became emblematic of liberty and freedom from bondage.

 
 

SUCCESOR

 
 

Reese Whiterspoon as Elle Woods on Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, 2003), sequel to the film, Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001). Costume design by Sophie de Rakoff

National Anthem

 
 

National Anthem was released as a single on July 6, 2012, through Interscope Records. The song serves as Born to Die fifth single. The music video for the song premiered on June 27, 2012. It is directed by Anthony Mandler. It depicts Lana Del Rey as Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy and A$AP Rocky as John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Mandler stated the concept was Del Rey’s and that she was “really interested in exploring this loss of innocence, this idea that what you think you’re experiencing is maybe not what it’s always going to be. Because when you say ‘Kennedy,’ that immediately evokes something, just like when I say ‘It’s a Romeo and Juliet story.’ So I think using that power, that pedigree of the story is a really fascinating place to show the loss of something, the breakdown of something.”

Mandler described the video as being seen “through [Onassis’] eyes, seeing this kind of castle crumble in the moment, and that shot where she’s coming up out of the car, and the pain in her eyes, that destruction, it’s like the whole castle is crumbling around her.” Del Rey cited the video as “definitely the most beautiful thing” she’s ever done. Del Rey wrote the treatment for herself and ASAP Rocky saying “he’d be really perfect to star in it.”

 
 

Jackie and America’s Guernica

“I’d been thrilled having Kennedy as president; he was handsome, young, smart–but it didn’t bother me that much that he was dead. What bothered me was the way the television and radio were programming everybody to feel so sad.”

Andy Warhol

 
 

16 Jackies, Andy Warhol, 1964

 
 

After President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Andy Warhol began his series of “Jackie paintings” in response to the media blitz that followed the incident. 16 Jackies is a grid of four different images based on news photos of Jacqueline Kennedy from international press coverage of JFK’s death.

 
 

According to Christopher Knight (Los Angeles Times art critic):

For art, the 1963 murder of a president became America’s Guernica.

In style, emotional tenor and generation, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol were very different artists. But both made paintings that spoke to an epic social trauma of their day. And both used the same motif — a weeping woman — to focus the unfathomable event.

Over three hours in the afternoon of April 26, 1937, German bombers pummeled an ancient Basque village in Northern Spain with a hundred thousand pounds of high-explosive and incendiary bombs, reducing the town of Guernica to smoking rubble. Shock waves spread across Europe.

Picasso, then 55 and a mature artist, went to work. In a few weeks’ time he completed a big painting that would become an anguished modern icon of anti-war protest….

 
 

Guernica (detail), Pablo Picasso, 1937

 
 

The Weeping Woman,Pablo Picasso, 1937.
This painting was the final and most elaborate of the Weeping Woman series, which is regarded as a thematic continuation of the tragedy depicted in Picasso’s epic painting Guernica. In focusing on the image of a woman crying, the artist was no longer painting the effects of the Spanish Civil War directly, but rather referring to a singular universal image of suffering.

 
 

…Warhol’s weeping women are cold, Picasso’s are hot. Picasso’s boil over, Warhol’s remain numb. Picasso’s are violently intimate, Warhol’s passively remote. Picasso prized individual heroics, Warhol disappeared into the crowd..

But like Picasso, Warhol understood that art can function as a powerful social lever. His emotionally neutered Jackie portraits used American popular culture as a weapon, not a target. Warhol’s icy weeping woman put Picasso squarely in the cross hairs — Picasso and all the accumulated mythologies and pretensions of established Modern art..

The younger artist had no choice. For as long as art’s old aesthetic machismo held sway, there simply was no room for the likes of him. So, with the deliberateness of an assassin, Warhol coolly killed it off.

A Time for Greatness and JFK’s Bold Legacy

Portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Norman Rockwell, 1960

 
 

In The Norman Rockwell Album of 1961, the artist recalled his encounters with Kennedy.

It was a cold, misty morning in Hyannis Port. Mr. Kennedy leaned out of an upstairs window in his pajamas and said to go right on into the house, he would be down in a minute.  While Mr. Kennedy ate his breakfast, I selected a room in which to take photographs.  As I posed him, I remarked that I thought a rather dignified, serious pose would be best; his youthful appearance should not be emphasized.  He agreed.  Afterward we walked onto to the breakwater near the house to see his sailboat.  As we were returning to the house, Mr. Kennedy suggested that we try the pose again.  He felt that he had been a little stiff the first time.  We did, and his expression was just what I had wanted—serious, with a certain dignity, but relaxed and pleasant, not hard.

 
 

A time for Greatness, 1964

 
 

The Peace Corps (J.F.K.’s Bold Legacy), 1966

 
 

Rockwell repeated the simple and powerful style used in Freedom of Worship to lend impact to this painting. Knowing his strength lay in communicating ideas and feelings through facial expressions, Rockwell chose to portray faces rather than situations to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Corps. During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy proposed the idea of a volunteer organization of trained people who would be sent to developing nations in Africa and Asia to assist villagers in educational and agricultural projects. In 1961, the program which Kennedy hoped would promote understanding between nations was officially instated.

Rockwell’s portrait of Kennedy is based on a Jacques Lowe photograph from his book, The Kennedy Years. Former Peace Corps workers posed for most of the figures. “In this sordid world of power struggles, politics and national rivalries the Peace Corps seems to stand almost alone,” wrote Rockwell to art director Allen Hurlburt, when he sent the picture to Look magazine.

Towards a Definitive Statement

Towards a definitive statement on the coming trends in men’s wear and accessories (a) Together let us explore the stars,  Richard Hamilton, 1962

 
 

This work explores how masculinity and fashion can be determined by a technological environment – here signaled by the glamour of the space race, typified by John F Kennedy’s 1961 exhortation to go to the moon. Hamilton’s investigation of the languages of advertising and popular culture through painting and collage has a critical  intention as much as a poetic force. He understood that “the artist in twentieth-century urban life is inevitably a consumer of mass culture and potentially a contributor to it.”

A Man Advertising Himself

President Elect, 1960-61/1964, James Rosenquist

 
 

Collage for President Elect, 1960–61. Cropped poster, magazine clippings and mixed media, 35.6 x 60.5 cm. Collection of the artist

 
 

The painting President Elect (1960–61/1964) includes a portrait of John F. Kennedy borrowed from a 1960 presidential campaign poster. James Rosenquist juxtaposed this portrait with images of middle-class wealth and consumerism—advertisements from Life magazine—in order to say, “Here is this new guy who wants to be President of the United States… what is he offering us?” Kennedy was the first presidential candidate to fully utilize the mass media in his campaign, and the painting is about “a man advertising himself.”

The Embodiment of a National Tragedy

Retroactive I, Robert Rauschenberg, 1963

 
 

Retroactive I is widely considered one of the finest of Robert Rauschenberg’s silkscreen paintings. Central to the work is an iconic portrait of President John F. Kennedy, a symbol of progress and promise. Ironically, Rauschenberg ordered the silkscreen of this image during the summer preceding the president’s assassination. He overcame his initial reluctance to use it following the trauma of November 1963, in part because he was committed theoretically to a non-hierarchical interest in all phenomena in the world around him. Nothing, however, can separate the power of this image from its emblematic reading as the embodiment of a national tragedy.

 
 

Skyway, Robert Rauschenberg, 1964

 
 

Signs, Robert Rauschenberg, 1970

A Verb, a Noun and an Image

“A painting to me is primarily a verb, not a noun, an event first and only secondarily an image”
Elaine De Kooning

 
 

Elaine de Kooning sketching President John F. Kennedy at his West Palm Beach residence. Between 1961 and 1963

 
 

Elaine de Kooning (March 12, 1918/1920 – February 1, 1989) was an Abstract Expressionist, Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era and editorial associate for Art News magazine. On December 9, 1943, she married artist Willem de Kooning, who was a highly influential artist in the Abstract Expressionism movement.

 
 

 
 

She was born Elaine Marie Catherine Fried in 1918 (she later gave her birth year as 1920) in Brooklyn, New York. The oldest of four children born to Charles Frank Fried and Mary Ellen O’Brien Fried, she was raised in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Her artistic sensibility was encouraged by her mother, who took her to museums and taught her to draw what she saw. After graduating from Erasmus Hall High School, then brief studies at Hunter College in New York City, in 1937 she attended the Leonardo da Vinci Art School, Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1938 she went on to study at the American Artists School in New York City.

 
 

 
 

Working and teaching outside the shadow of her more famous husband, de Kooning gained acclaim as one of America’s premier artists. In 1962 she received a commission from the White House to paint the portrait of President John F. Kennedy; an impressive honor bestowed upon an artist commonly associated with the bohemian New York School of painting. De Kooning then spent the better part of 1963 fine-tuning the portrait, collecting hundreds of photographs of Kennedy, and drawing short-hand sketches of him whenever he appeared on TV. The resulting portrait remains one of de Kooning’s most well known and celebrated paintings, and easily stands out in the long line of presidential portraits.

Surrounded by Artists

Jasper Johns

 
 

James Rosenquist

 
 

Roy Lichtenstein

 
 

Ed Ruscha

 
 

Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and  David Goodman.

 
 

Robert Rauschenberg with his tongue stamped “Wedding Souvenir, Claes Oldenburg “. Photo portraits by Dennis Hopper

 
 

Dennis Hopper began working as a painter, a photographer, a poet and as well as a collector of art in the 1960s as well, particularly Pop Art. Over his lifetime he amassed a formidable array of 20th- and 21st-century art. Numerous works from his early cohorts, such as Ed Ruscha, Edward Kienholz, Roy Lichtenstein (Sinking Sun, 1964), and Andy Warhol (Double Mona Lisa, 1963); and pieces by contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Robin Rhode. He was involved in L.A.’s Virginia Dwan and Ferus galleries of the 1960s, and he was a longtime friend and supporter to New York dealer Tony Shafrazi. One of the first art works Hopper owned was an early print of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans bought for $75.

 
 

Warhol, Irving Blum, Billy Al Bengston and Dennis Hopper at the opening of the Marcel Duchamp Show at the Pasadena Art Museum

 
 

Julian Schnabel and Hopper on the set of Basquiat (J. Schnabel, 1996)