Sep 7, 2010

Carl Larsson & Norman Rockwell

Carl Larsson seems a lot like a Swedish Norman Rockwell--in fact, I wonder if Rockwell didn't take a page or two from Larsson's book (Larsson: b.1853, d.1919; Rockwell: b.1894, d.1978).

Here's Larsson's Christmas Eve


Similar, in its celebration of the bourgeois ideals of plenitude, domesticity, and multi-generational family structure, of national pride and Christianity and a certain shade of skin, of gleaming plates, glistening glassware, white tablecloths, and mongo meat roasts, to Rockwell's Freedom from Want


I do like the way Larsson "sticks a fork in it" (what is that "it" anyway, on Larsson's table? a de-boned turkey? what's the white stuff coming out of it? and what's that massive plank of buttery looking stuff in front of it? Butter???) Still, I'd rather sit at Rockwell's table, right next to the smiling man in the lower right corner, who looks like he might be the artist himself (?).

Here's another Larsson painting, Around the Lamp. Again (as with the fork) a faint but jarringly sinister note is sounded, this time in the vaguely demonic glare of the little girl on the right. Rockwell's table still looks like more fun, but this one looks like more stories,


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Jimmy Stewart Says Grace
John Currin's "Thanksgiving"

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"Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead." —W. H. Auden