Norman Rockwell’s Family Doesn’t Want You to Think He Was Gay / Hyperallergic

Ever wonder what happens when you Google “Norman Rockwell gay.” (screenshot by Hyperallergic)

Ever wonder what happens when you Google “Norman Rockwell gay.” (screenshot by Hyperallergic)

Former New York Times columnist Deborah Solomon’s new biography of Norman Rockwell, American Mirrorhints that America’s “most beloved artist” may have been acloseted gay man. Rockwell, who died in 1978 and was perhaps best known for his The Saturday Evening Post magazine illustrations, reflected back to America what it looked like. Solomon, who has written biographies of Joseph Cornell and Jackson Pollock, raises questions that could bring forth new interpretations of Rockwell’s work and life. But is an artist or writer’s sexuality important at all in relation their work if they are, in fact, acting as an American mirror?

In her 493-page book, Solomon notes that Rockwell “demonstrated an intense need for emotional and physical closeness with men.” She also ponders whether his marriages were part of a way for him to “control his homoerotic desires,” and notes how, while on a camping trip with his male assistant placed a vague comment about how the assistant appeared “most fetching in his long flannels.” The Times quotes a passage in Solomon’s book that questions about Rockwell’s sexuality:

Later in the book, Ms. Solomon writes that “we are made to wonder whether Rockwell’s complicated interest in the depiction of preadolescent boys was shadowed by pedophilic impulses.” She again added a disclaimer: “There is no evidence that he acted on his impulses or behaved in a way that was inappropriate for its time.”

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