Thursday, October 4, 2007

Autumn in Stockbridge

I am traveling to Massachusetts tomorrow to present a talk at the Norman Rockwell Museum in connection with the exhibition Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Women’s Magazine, 1940-1960. I’m looking forward to Northeastern foliage and fall temperatures. The folks at the Rockwell are terrific, too. Stephanie Plunkett, the chief curator, does great work and may well be the most gracious person alive.

For anyone in the area, my talk is at 5:00 on Saturday at the Museum.

The talk is titled Al Parker and Visual Modernism: How Illustration Shifted from Past to Present. The birth of illustration in America corresponded with a technological and distributive explosion, producing huge numbers of popular periodicals and images in the last third of the 19th century. Howard Pyle and the Brandywine School rode the wave of expanding technology and demand into the early 20th century. Perversely, the cultural orientation of this group was backward-looking, aimed at 19th century values and themes. It took a later generation of illustrators, led by Al Parker, to embrace modernity in style and spirit. A look at Parker, Modernism, and the logic of Now in a commercial culture.

Images: Al Parker, Ladies Home Journal cover, October 1948; "Search for Amelia," Ladies Home Journal interior illustration, March 1959.

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