Dept of Get Over It:
3 December 2013

¶ At no point in her new biography of Norman Rockwell does Deborah Solomon say that the popular artist was gay, but we have yet to encounter a review that does not weigh this considerable topic. Post-considerable. Because the reviews are favorable — so favorable that critics have stopped looking down their noses (for the moment) at the creator of The Connoisseur — the homoerotic element in Rockwell’s work, which Solomon does claim to discern, the gay thing is “dangerously becoming fact,” according to granddaughter Abigail Rockwell. Julie Bosman’s story in the Times communicates this anxiety to readers of the Paper of Record.

But the mere insinuations have infuriated members of the Rockwell family intent on protecting his legacy. Two family members, who spoke in an interview on Monday, said that they regarded Ms. Solomon’s book as “shocking.”

<Sigh> Not only is it not shocking — erotic drives are in themselves never shocking, although impermissible ones, if gratified, may lead to shocking consequences — but Solomon’s speculations will probably work to refresh and broaden Rockwell’s appeal to younger generations, who don’t necessarily (as people my age were taught to do) see his art as corny or kitschy. He was guy doing a job that involved intelligent, creative work, and he wasn’t the happiest of men. Does this not sound like a capital-a Artist? Next!

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