During the summer of 1942, the American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell embarked on a series of paintings that would come to be known as "The Four Freedoms." Inspired by an impassioned speech President Roosevelt had made a year earlier, this quartet of images — freedom from want, from fear, freedom of speech and of worship — were published in The Saturday Evening Post the following winter, and remain among Rockwell's most celebrated works. They were also highly effective as a means of social impact. The Office of War Information distributed thousands as posters, and a 16-city tour of the paintings was seen by 1.2 million people, raising over $130 million dollars in war bonds. Writing in The New Yorker a few years later, one critic noted that as a series, these paintings were received by the American public with more enthusiasm, perhaps, than any other paintings in the history of American art.
Obviously, "The Four Freedoms" were not just art — they were propaganda in a time of war. The tension between the two has been embraced by the Wolfsonian Museum at Florida International University, which has commissioned 60 designers to design a new work inspired by Norman Rockwell’s posters. The exhibition, Thoughts on Democracy, opens today in Miami (tomorrow being July 4th, Independence Day in the U.S.). Certain designers have followed the four-poster, four-freedoms model; some have chosen one of Roosevelt's four themes; and others have selected new freedoms, things neither envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt nor by Norman Rockwell. The following is a selection of the commissioned posters.
|Play Slideshow >>|