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the problem we all live with 1935 Painting by Norman Rockwell

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the problem we all live with 1935 Oil Painting

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the problem we all live with 1935 - Rockwell Paintings for Sale

The Problem We All Live With
Artist Norman Rockwell
Year 1964
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 91 cm × 150 cm (36 in × 58 in)
Location Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The Problem We All Live With is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell. It is considered an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.[2] It depicts Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American girl, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white public school, on November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Because of threats and violence against her, she is escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals; the painting is framed such that the marshals' heads are cropped at the shoulders.[3][4] On the wall behind her is written the racial slur "nigger" and the letters "KKK"; a smashed and splattered tomato thrown against the wall is also visible. The white protesters are not visible, as the viewer is looking at the scene from their point of view.[3] The painting is oil on canvas and measures 36 inches (91 cm) high by 58 inches (150 cm) wide.

The painting was originally published as a centerfold in the January 14, 1964 issue of Look.[5] Rockwell had ended his contract with the Saturday Evening Post the previous year due to frustration with the limits the magazine placed on his expression of political themes, and Look offered him a forum for his social interests, including civil rights and racial integration.[3] Rockwell explored similar themes in Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi) and New Kids in the Neighborhood;[6] unlike his previous works for the Post, The Problem We All Live With and these others place black people as sole protagonists, instead of as observers, part of group scenes, or in servile roles.[7][8] Like New Kids in the Neighborhood, The Problem We All Live With depicts a black child protagonist;[7] like Southern Justice, it uses strong light-dark contrasts to further its racial theme.[9]

At Bridges' suggestion, President Barack Obama had the painting installed in the White House, in a hallway outside the Oval Office, from July to October 2011. Art historian William Kloss stated, "The N-word there – it sure stops you. There’s a realistic reason for having the graffiti as a slur, [but] it’s also right in the middle of the painting. It’s a painting that could not be hung even for a brief time in the public spaces [of the White House]. I’m pretty sure of that."[1]

In the FX cable television channel series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story in 2016, the painting was used to "dress" the Simpson house by defense attorney Johnnie Cochran before a tour of the house by the jury during the 1995 murder trial.

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Norman Rockwell Museum announces the loan of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting “The Problem We All Live With,” part of its permanent collection, to The White House, where it will be exhibited through October 31. The loan was requested this year by President Barack Obama, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Ruby Bridges’ history-changing walk integrating the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960, that later inspired Rockwell’s bold illustration for the January 14, 1964 issue of “Look” magazine. “The Problem We All Live With” was the first painting purchased by Norman Rockwell Museum in 1975. The White House loan was made possible through the support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

“Norman Rockwell Museum is deeply honored that the White House has requested the loan of one of Rockwell’s most important paintings,” says Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. “The painting has come to serve as an important symbol of civil rights, and Museum Trustee Ruby Bridges’ historic journey. We are enormously grateful for the support of the Luce Foundation, that made the loan possible.”

Ruby Bridges’ historic walk took place six years after the 1954 United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, and represented a definite victory for the American Civil Rights Movement. Among those Americans to take note of the event was artist Norman Rockwell, a longtime supporter of the goals of equality and tolerance. In his early career, editorial policies governed the placement of minorities in his illustrations (restricting them to service industry positions only), however in 1963 Rockwell confronted the issue of prejudice head-on with one of his most powerful paintings–“The Problem We All Live With.” Inspired by the story of Ruby Bridges and school integration, the image featured a young African-American girl being escorted to school amidst signs of protest and fearful ignorance. The painting ushered in a new era in Rockwell’s career, and remains an important national symbol of the struggle for racial equality.

“I was about 18 or 19 years old the first time that I actually saw it,” says Ruby Bridges Hall, who now serves on the board of Norman Rockwell Museum. “It confirmed what I had been thinking all along–that this was very important and you did this, and it should be talked about… At that point in time that’s what the country was going through, and here was a man who had been doing lots of work–painting family images–and all of the sudden decided this is what I am going to do… it’s wrong and I’m going to say that it’s wrong.”

The illustration appeared in the January 14, 1964 issue of “Look” magazine, and earned Rockwell letters of both praise and criticism from readers unused to such direct social commentary from the illustrator. Rockwell would revisit the theme of civil rights in several other illustrations from the period, and in 1970 received the Million Dollar Club Award from The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), for having contributed $1000 to the organization.

Rockwell's first assignment for Look magazine was an illustration of a six-year-old African-American school girl being escorted by four U.S. marshals to her first day at an all-white school in New Orleans. Ordered to proceed with school desegregation after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Louisiana lagged behind until pressure from Federal Judge Skelly Wright forced the school board to begin desegregation on November 14, 1960.

Letters to the editor were a mix of praise and criticism. One Florida reader wrote, "Rockwell's picture is worth a thousand words...I am saving this issue for my children with the hope that by the time they become old enough to comprehend its meaning, the subject matter will have become history." Other readers objected to Rockwell's image. A man from Texas wrote "Just where does Norman Rockwell live? Just where does your editor live? Probably both of these men live in all-white, highly expensive, highly exclusive neighborhoods. Oh what hypocrites all of you are!" The most shocking letter came from a man in New Orleans who called Rockwell's work, "just some more vicious lying propaganda being used for the crime of racial integration by such black journals as Look, Life, etc." But irate opinions did not stop Rockwell from pursuing his course. In 1965, he illustrated the murder of civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and in 1967, he chose children, once again, to illustrate desegregation, this time in our suburbs.

In an interview later in his life, Rockwell recalled that he once had to paint out an African-American person in a group picture since The Saturday Evening Post policy dictated showing African-Americans in service industry jobs only. Freed from such restraints, Rockwell seemed to look for opportunities to correct the editorial prejudices reflected in his previous work. The Problem We All Live With and Murder in Mississippi ushered in that new era for Rockwell.

 

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