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Norman Rockwell Museum Opens Major Retrospective of Peter Rockwell’s Work

02:53PM / Thursday, June 04, 2009
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STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. - A major retrospective of sculptor Peter Rockwell’s work opens on July 9 at Norman Rockwell Museum. The Fantastical Faces of Peter Rockwell: A Sculptor’s Retrospective showcases more than 40 years of the artist’s works in stone, bronze, and clay. Filled with a spirit of play and exuberance, the large and small pieces inspired by acrobats, gargoyles, monsters, and creatures in motion are unmistakably the work of a self-described “humorist as sculptor.”

The artist, who is the youngest son of Norman Rockwell, will be at the Museum on July 11 for “Peter Rockwell Day,” a series of public events exploring his work. He and the extended Rockwell family will also be honored guests at the Museum’s 40th anniversary celebration on July 9.

Fantastical Faces coincides with the summer homecoming of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, the Museum’s traveling retrospective, offering visitors a chance to view the contrasting oeuvres of father and son. Dozens of smaller sculptures will be installed in the Museum’s galleries, complementing outdoor pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection. A highlight of the exhibition is a section examining the artist’s process, from the creation of a clay maquette through to the casting of the final bronze piece. Rockwell also practices a technique known as “direct carving,” which bypasses the creation of three-dimensional models in favor of carving stone pieces directly from drawings.

“We are delighted to present this first-ever retrospective of Peter’s work during our 40th anniversary summer season,” says Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum. “As we celebrate the extraordinary cultural and humanitarian legacy of Norman Rockwell during our anniversary year, it is fitting to also honor the legacy of Peter Rockwell, who has made significant scholarly and artistic contributions during his long, energetic, and accomplished career.”

“Peter Rockwell is a unique figure in contemporary art,” says Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Norman Rockwell Museum. “His work reflects a wide range of influences from throughout the 20th century, yet it is also utterly distinctive. His freewheeling, whimsical sculptures will give art lovers much to enjoy and ponder.” 

Organized by Norman Rockwell Museum, Fantastical Faces runs through October 25, 2009. It was previously on view at the Butler Institute of American Art from March 22 to May 24, 2009.

Peter Rockwell Biography

Peter Rockwell was born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1936. Wary of pursuing an artistic career because the arts were “too much in the family,” he graduated from Haverford College with a degree in English Literature in 1958. By that time, however, he had already fallen in love with sculpture, and went on to study at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In 1961, Rockwell was awarded a traveling fellowship to study at the Scuola di Marmo in Carrara, Italy. He has lived and worked in Rome ever since. 

Rockwell’s sculpture has been exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in Italy and throughout the United States. He has created pieces for numerous public commissions, including the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Haverford College, Boston College, and various sites in Italy. His work is included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; ICCROM in Rome; the Bridgeport Museum of American Art in Bridgeport, Connecticut; the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; and Norman Rockwell Museum. 

In addition to being a noted sculptor, Rockwell is a leading authority on the history of stone carving, and is the author of The Art of Stoneworking (1993), one of the most important books in the field. Rockwell has lectured widely on the subject, and has served as a consultant and stone-carving expert at historical and archeological sites in Italy, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. 

Related Programs and Events

40th Anniversary Celebration on July 9

On July 9, Peter Rockwell offers remarks and leads an exhibition tour as a highlight of the Museum’s 40th anniversary celebration, which takes place on the Museum grounds from 5:00-8:30 p.m. The public may call 413-931-2299 for ticket prices and reservations.

Peter Rockwell Day on July 11

On July 11, the Museum celebrates Peter Rockwell Day! The public is invited to meet the artist and explore his approach to creating fantastical artworks in clay, stone, ceramic, and bronze. Events include an illustrated presentation on stone carving at 11 a.m., an exhibition walk and talk led by Rockwell at 2 p.m., and an opening lecture and book signing at 5:30 p.m. Daytime events are open to the public with Museum admission; after-hours reception is free to Museum members, and $15 for non-members.

About Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum is the preeminent museum of American illustration art. Dedicated to art education and art appreciation inspired by the enduring legacy of Norman Rockwell, the Museum stewards the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell art, and presents the works of contemporary and past masters of illustration. The Museum’s holdings include Rockwell’s last studio, moved from its original location to the Museum grounds, and the Norman Rockwell Archives, a 200,000-object collection undergoing digital preservation. The Museum is also home to the new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, the nation’s first research institute devoted to the art of illustration. In 2008, Norman Rockwell Museum became the first-ever museum recipient of the National Humanities Medal, America’s highest honor in the field. 

Norman Rockwell Museum is located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life. The Museum is open year-round. From May through October, hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; from November through April, hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Rockwell’s studio is open May through October, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (not wheelchair accessible). Museum admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, and $13.50 for seniors. Children and teens 18 and under are admitted free year-round through Kids Free Every Day, a gift to families from Country Curtains, Blantyre, and The Red Lion Inn. For additional information, call 413-298-4100, ext. 221, or visit www.nrm.org.
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