Seventy-eight years after President Franklin D. Roosevelts famous State of the Union address inspired artist Norman Rockwell to create his iconic Four Freedoms series of paintings, the works of art are on display in the nations capital as part of a seven-city international tour. Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms opened this week at the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum and will be on view through April 29.
Enduring Ideals is the first comprehensive traveling exhibition devoted to Mr. Rockwells depictions of Mr. Roosevelts Four Freedomsfreedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fearand is a rare opportunity to see these masterpieces together outside their permanent home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The exhibition, organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum, takes visitors on a journey from Mr. Roosevelts speech to wartime paintings and posters to Mr. Rockwells poignant later artworks that addressed social issues such as civil rights and the Vietnam War.
The exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists offering fresh takes on freedom. Maurice Pops Petersons Freedom from What? depicts a modern day African American couple putting their children to bed while looking over their shoulders for possible threats from the outside world. Bri Hermansons To Have and To Hold shows two women in a loving embrace in a nod to marriage equality. Gary Bists painting Refugee Families in Winter reflects on the many refugees who risk their lives in pursuit of safety, security and freedom.
The exhibition comes to the museum through a collaboration with the Albert H. Small Center for National Capitol Area Studies, which is dedicated to research on Washington as a center of government and the values that informed its development.
Freedom of speech and worship, freedom from fear and want are ideals as powerful today as they were for Americans who fought in World War II, museum director John Wetenhall said. At a time and in a federal city where the true meaning of these values has become contested in the world of partisan and identity politics, it behooves us all to reflect back to when these very freedoms were in peril ideals so powerfully embodied in Rockwells unforgettable icons.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, the museum and the university will continue to explore themes of freedom through a number of public programs. Partners include GWs School of Media and Public Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom, Honey W. Nash Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and Columbian College of Arts and Science. Visit the exhibition website for a current list of programs: www.fourfreedoms.museum.gwu.edu
We are grateful for the commitment of the George Washington University to teach and celebrate the noble ideas represented in the Four Freedoms exhibition, Laurie Norton Moffatt, director and CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum said. The Norman Rockwell Museum organized this exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Mr. Rockwells four paintings. It is our hope that Norman Rockwells enduring paintings will inspire a new generation of students, citizens, future leaders, and elected officials in the nations capital to embody these human values in their lifes work, Ms. Moffatt said.