This delightful painting entitled Makes Good Sense to Me... was featured in Life magazine and The Saturday Evening Post in both November and December of 1940 and demonstrated how easy it was to calculate financing costs and payments when buying a new car from General Motors. In the actual advertisement the featured book was for a GMAC "open book" Installment Plan instruction manual.
Norman Rockwell's ability to touch his viewer's emotions was prized not only by magazine art editors, but also by advertisers and because of this Rockwell led a very long and incredibly successful career as an artist. His first commission was painted when he was only 16 and his irresistible paintings of American life made him the American illustrator of the 20th century.
Rockwell said himself, "Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed." From 1916-1963, his poignant paintings became the visual identity of The Saturday Evening Post with over 300 of his works featured on the cover, plus numerous others used for illustrations. Nearly all major magazines of the day called upon Rockwell for his outstanding compositions, including Literary Digest, Life, Country Gentleman, and Look.
Rockwell tapped into the nostalgia of the American people and his ability to create visual stories that expressed the desires of a nation helped to clarify and, in a sense, create that nation's vision. While history was in the making all around him, Rockwell chose to fill his canvases with the small details and nuances of ordinary people in everyday life. Taken together, his many paintings capture the essence of the American spirit. "I paint life as I would like it to be," Rockwell once said. Mythical, idealistic, and innocent, his paintings evoke a longing for a time and place that existed in his rich imagination and in the hopes and aspirations of the nation. According to filmmaker Steven Spielberg, "Rockwell painted the American dream-better than anyone."
During the late 1940s and 1950s Rockwell continued as one of the most prolific and recognized illustrators in the country. While his allegiance to the Saturday Evening Post Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Literary Digest, and Look.
In the 1960s, prompted by his third wife, new markets, and by the times, Rockwell began to exhibit a strong sense of social consciousness. His images, which had primarily dealt with a utopian vision of the country, began to address realistic concerns. "The Problem We All Live With," shows an African-American schoolgirl, escorted by safety officers, walking past a wall smeared with the juices of a thrown tomato. In addition to civil rights, Rockwell's later subjects ranged from poverty to the Space Age, from the Peace Corps to the presidents. Rockwell's distinguished career earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, the highest honor bestowed upon an American civilian.