From the Director
On January 6, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the state of the union address in which he stated, “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” He identified the four freedoms as the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. Two years later, the renowned painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell immortalized these freedoms in a series of paintings that were published in The Saturday Evening Post and later reproduced widely.
The Four Freedoms series was sent on a national tour to help raise money through the sale of war bonds. Interestingly, these works were exhibited in post offices, schools, clubs, and railroad stations, among other public buildings. Presenting them in the public sphere rather than in a fine arts museum may have contributed, in part, to the tepid critical response to the work. In 1977, Rockwell received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today in light of a broader definition of visual and material culture, the merits of illustration and the work of Norman Rockwell in particular are more widely appreciated than ever before.
It is with great pleasure for the Frist Center to exhibit ink on paper drawings of the Four Freedoms as part of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. As we become an increasingly diverse nation, one that takes pleasure in the traditions of native cultures as well as those brought more recently to our country, we note the increasingly popularity of the non-partisan, secular holiday of Thanksgiving. The Four Freedoms series is a cornerstone of Rockwell’s oeuvre, and the Freedom from Want, the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, is more than ever emblematic of our common goals.
Whether it’s an old fashioned holiday or a new tradition, we hope your plans this fall include a visit to the Frist.
Susan H. Edwards, Ph.D.
Executive Director and CEO