(Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar....)
Over the last year or so, Deborah Solomon’s biography of Norman Rockwell has gotten a lot of attention, some laudatory, some extremely negative. Recently, the New York Times listed it in its 100 “Notable” books of 2014. This is unfortunate, for while the book is indeed notable, I don’t believe its notoriety is the sort implied through its inclusion on such a list. It’s mainly notable for its outrageous falsifications and distortions.
So, you ask, what is so wrong with Solomon’s book? See my previous post for some links that will answer that question for you. Here, I’ll just summarize. Solomon is the sort of art critic who leaps immediately to the most facile and gross sexualizations imaginable. In the case of Rockwell, this approach applies not merely to the artworks, but to Rockwell himself. Solomon presents Rockwell as a pedophile and as a repressed homosexual. (She admits that she has no evidence that Rockwell ever molested any children. But being a pedophile is a function of desires, not of actions. She also admits there’s no evidence that Rockwell ever had any sexual encounters with any men, but again being a repressed homosexual is a function of desires, not of actions.) There is no legitimate evidence for either claim.