The Problem We Live With by Norman Rockwell

The Problem We Live With by Norman Rockwell
The Problem We Live With by Norman Rockwell

This painting by the American illustrator Norman Rockwell portrays a historical moment in that country. It was in November 1960, when the girl Ruby Bridges became the first black schoolgirl to enter a white elementary school in the city of New Orleans.

Quite a challenge to the prevailing racism at that time, so much so that she had to go escorted by four federal officers to protect her. These four law enforcement officers are perfectly identified on this canvas, although they do not have faces. The only whole figure is the girl, the protagonist of this historical event within the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.


The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell

Actually,Rockwell(1894 – 1978) was a sought-after illustrator who did hundreds of drawings for publications such as the newspaperSaturday Evening Postwith which he collaborated for almost 50 years. As well as for other media, from Look to the official magazine of the Boy Scouts. In other words, together with J. C. Leyendecker he is one of the great illustrators of the 20th century inUnited States.

In fact, Rockwell liked to define himself as a storyteller, rather than as a painter or illustrator. And certainly his speci alty was the most costumbrista themes, with his famous image of Thanksgiving Dinner at thehead. But he also had the most critical and profound facet of her, and this painting that he painted in 1964, four years after the events reflected, belongs to her.

So she had to recreate the scene, for which she enlisted the daughter of some family friends, with the police chief ofStockbridge, the town where she lived, and three other agents from Boston. And with the girl he was able to make her pose for several days, but that was not possible with the adults. So he took pictures of himself walking so he could study the movements.

And of course he imagined how that scene could have been with people throwing things, like the tomato that is crushed on the wall or yelling nigger, (black) at the girl. Yet she walks upright and looking straight ahead, wearing absolutely clean, white and immaculate clothes, and armed with her notebook and her pencils to face the future. In fact, perhaps it could be thought that the girl would have to be in the center of the canvas to star completely. But it is not like that, nor is it necessary. The artist has painted her slightly to the left, which reinforces her message that she is moving forward.

A work typical of his time, with great symbolism and message, making it one of the jewels of theNorman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

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