Archive for the ‘SOVIET SUGAR-PLUM WOORK’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ART CRITIC WAXES NOSTALGIC ON SENTIMENTAL AMERICANA PICTURES – AMERICA’S HISTORY IS NOT GOLDEN BEAMS OF LIGHT BUT A POUNDING FIST ON THE TABLE – THE SOVIETS HAD SIMILAR QUALITY PROPAGANDA – NOTE ON FDR AND LYNCHINGS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ART SHOW REVIEW BY JONATHAN JONES IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“Four Freedoms at 75: Norman Rockwell’s paintings come to life again at New York Historical Society

“A new touring exhibit celebrates the ‘lofty’ ideals of Rockwell’s work at a time when America is in need of harmony”

 

Rockwell was a brilliant draftsman, and the sheer quality of the physical work almost pushes you to embrace the themes.

Almost.

The themes are simplistic, Walt Disneyish, and in truth, if you know America well, not very accurate.

They represent wishes or fantasies of what America is like, but they are not genuine observations.

Most of the pictures I believe do qualify as propaganda works – pleasant, soft, lulling propaganda, but propaganda just the same.

The Soviets also did just such highly-skilled sugar-plum work as part of their output. Soviet propaganda was not all harsh images of Stalin and machinery and tanks. You can find close counterparts to the Rockwell pictures.

The Four Freedoms of President Roosevelt were just one of his great rhetorical flourishes. He was a truly gifted man that way. Absolutely inspiring at times, as with his magnificent, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

But his words little more represent the realities of America in his day than do Rockwell’s pictures.

Did you know in the 1930s, Eleanor approached Franklin in the White House, asking him to speak out about the still-common lynchings in the South, a solidly Democratic Party region? He explained that he could not for political reasons, and that’s where it was left.

So, the family picnics on the grass that were sometimes organized in the South for a public lynching, the kind of thing Eleanor had read about, went right on.

And there are many such other matters, perhaps as dark. America’s authentic story is not told in golden beams of sunlight. It is more about Big Daddy’s “pounding fist.”

We really need to keep our eyes and ears focused for truth in these dangerous days. Allowing our minds to drift off on pleasant fantasy is no help at all and may add to the dangers before us.