Rockwell's Four Freedoms and Other Iconic Works Arrive in Washington

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  • February 13, 2019

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Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Golden Rule, 1961. Oil on canvas, 44 ½" x 39 ½". Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961. Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.
©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All ...
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Migrant Mother (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32. Nipomo, CA), February or March 1936.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Divis...

 ‘Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms’ Open Now Through April in DC

Seventy-eight years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous State of the Union address inspired artist Norman Rockwell to create his iconic “Four Freedoms” series of paintings, the works of art will be on display in the nation’s capital as part of a seven-city international tour. “Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms” opened Wednesday at the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum and will be on view through April 29.

“Enduring Ideals” is the first comprehensive traveling exhibition devoted to Mr. Rockwell’s depictions of Mr. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear—and is a rare opportunity to see these masterpieces together outside their permanent home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The exhibition, organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, takes visitors on a journey from Mr. Roosevelt’s speech to wartime paintings and posters to Mr. Rockwell’s poignant later artworks that addressed social issues such as civil rights and the Vietnam War.

The exhibition will continue to Memorial de Caen in Normandy, France, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2019; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in December; and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., in the fall of 2020.

The exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists offering fresh takes on freedom. Maurice “Pops” Peterson’s “Freedom from What?” depicts a modern day African American couple putting their children to bed while looking over their shoulders for possible threats from the outside world. Bri Hermanson’s “To Have and To Hold” shows two women in a loving embrace in a nod to marriage equality. Gary Bist’s painting “Refugee Families in Winter” reflects on the many refugees who risk their lives in pursuit of safety, security and freedom.

Rockwell's (clockwise from left): “Freedom of Speech,” 1943; “Freedom of Worship,” 1943; “Freedom from Want,” 1943; and “Freedom from Fear,” 1943.
©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. All rights reserved.

The exhibition comes to the museum through a collaboration with the Albert H. Small Center for National Capitol Area Studies, which is dedicated to research on Washington as a center of government and the values that informed its development.

“Freedom of speech and worship, freedom from fear and want are ideals as powerful today as they were for Americans who fought in World War II,” museum director John Wetenhall said. “At a time and in a federal city where the true meaning of these values has become contested in the world of partisan and identity politics, it behooves us all to reflect back to when these very freedoms were in peril – ideals so powerfully embodied in Rockwell’s unforgettable icons.”

Throughout the run of the exhibition, the museum and the university will continue to explore themes of freedom through a number of public programs. Partners include GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom, Honey W. Nash Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and Columbian College of Arts and Science. Visit the exhibition website for a current list of programs:

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