November 07, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Norman Rockwell: A Life

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Laura Claridge
publisher
Random House
genre
Biography
We gave it a B

At a moment of such intense patriotism, a biography of Norman Rockwell, the illustrator whose covers of The Saturday Evening Post were, for a generation of magazine readers, almost as reassuring as the American flag, would seem perfectly timed. Laura Claridge has done an extraordinary job; she is an exhaustive researcher and a gifted art historian, as adept at tracking down far-flung sources as she is at analyzing Rembrandt’s influence on Rockwell. But Norman Rockwell: A Life doesn’t quite click; all of Claridge’s effort and skill still can’t make Rockwell as dynamic as his work. The artist battled depression, complicated relationships with his family, and insecurity about the importance of his illustrations?in other words, he was yet another artist whose brilliance and insight are perhaps best appreciated in his work, not his life.

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