Some Norman Rockwell art sold for a groundbreaking $46 million dollars, the first ever in the American Art category. The art world has been breaking selling records, with last month’s Bacon triptych, which I wrote about here. Rockwell’s art has most notably graced covers of the Post magazine before the 1950’s.
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both covered this record-breaking story, each with their own engaging anecdotes to liven up a story that most ordinary Americans will not care about. They do not have millions of dollars to spend on art. Both articles covered the past history of the sold pieces and the mystique of the buyers, who bought them anonymously over the telephone.
“Who bought the works remains a mystery. Sotheby’s isn’t saying, nor are the buyers. Among this country’s top Rockwell collectors are the filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, as well as the businessman H. Ross Perot and Alice L. Walton, the Walmart heiress. None could be spotted in the audience or in any of Sotheby’s skyboxes,” the reporter wrote for the Times.
The Journal article took an angle focusing on book “American Mirror”, calling it a “controversial new biography of the artist by Deborah Solomon. The book, which suggests Rockwell harbored repressed homoerotic desires, has angered members of his family.”
This biography was not mentioned in the Times piece, yet the important anecdote mentioned in the Times piece wasn’t mentioned in the Journal piece either.
The Times really delved into the history of Rockwell’s art, and discussed the most recent history of where the art had been.
“Wednesday’s auction was the final chapter in years of bitter legal battles. When Stuart [the art owner] died in 1993, he left his entire estate to his sons — Ken Jr., William and Jonathan — in equal shares. But shortly after his death, William and Jonathan sued their older brother, Ken Jr., claiming that he had taken advantage of their ailing father, forcing him to sign papers to gain control of the fortune and contending that Ken Jr. had used estate assets for his own expenses.The brothers, who were secreted in a skybox above Sotheby’s salesroom watching the proceedings, only recently settled out of court,” as stated in the Times.
I personally liked the Times article better than the Journal article. It made an art auction, where hundreds of millions of dollars were spent, more personable by including people’s stories into it.
By doing this the reporters don’t give a voice to the voiceless per say, but it does make the story more relevant to the every-day subscriber and personable. And while some art pieces being sold to collectors and millionaires won’t affect anyone’s day-to-day business, Rockwell’s pieces and name are recognizable as one of the most important, iconic American artists.