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Norman Rockwell’s Family Rips ’Gay’ Hints in New Bio

Friday Dec 27, 2013

The family of Norman Rockwell is taking exception to a new biography of the late artist, saying it contains inaccuracies and poses a "phantom theory" about his sexuality.

"American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell," by Deborah Solomon, was published in November.

Family members said in a statement that they found 96 factual errors in the book and that the author misused sources and made "highly selective" use of Rockwell's autobiography, "My Adventures as an Illustrator."

Messages left for Solomon through her publisher Thursday weren't returned.

Rockwell, who illustrated more than 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, died in 1978 at age 84.

The family cites Solomon's description of how Rockwell would stop boys on the street to paint them and how such behavior might be problematic today.

They say it ignores the account in Rockwell's autobiography of how he'd ask their moms for permission.

"She supports this unfounded claim with another phantom theory, that Rockwell was a closeted homosexual," said the family statement, signed by Rockwell's son, Thomas, and granddaughter, Abigail. "To link pedophilia and homosexuality in this way is offensive and clearly homophobic."

In October, Solomon told The Wall Street Journal she didn't believe Rockwell had gay relationships, but said that he preferred male company and that "enormous homoeroticism" was evident in his work.

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  • , 2014-01-02 01:28:14

    May I suggest that an important aspect of Rockwell’s work that does reflect a real and ongoing concern in American life has been strangely overlooked in virtually all commentary on the man. If Norman Rockwell was depressed about anything, it was about the level of racial injustice in the world and, what seemed to him, his often thwarted or "hidden" attempts to confront it. My book on Rockwell, "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America" which also came out this fall (to win a Kirkus award but with much less fanfare than Solomon’s), addresses this theme. The back cover quotes Rockwell: "I just wanted to do something important." Failure to address this very salient aspect of Rockwell’s life and work until now might just be another example of a reluctance to turn any mirror on the troubling, "non-artsy" issue of race. Rarely does it make money for gallery owners or make for good cocktail party conversation.

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