Ode to Rockwell's Freedom of Speech, 2017
Courtesy of JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY, New Orleans.
Norman Rockwell, Freedom of Speech, 1943. Oil on canvas. Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, February 20, 1943. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.
Norman Rockwell created a series of four paintings inspired by a speech given by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the speech Roosevelt shared his vision for post war America, a country whose citizens would have freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Rockwell had some difficulty planning his approach to these four freedoms until he attended a town hall meeting in his hometown. There he witnessed a man stand up and share an unpopular opinion. From that scene Rockwell realized he could represent the four freedoms through images from everyday American life. The series originally ran as covers in The Saturday Evening Post but requests for reprints were so popular that the Post and the U.S. Department of the Treasury partnered to sell the prints as part of a campaign to sell war bonds and stamps.
In E2’s ode to Freedom of Speech a town hall full of diverse characters is presented. The audience members retain their skeptical expressions, as if the woman speaking is still presenting an opinion that is not shared by the group. She is expressing her right to freedom of speech.