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Freedom to Travel

An exhibit on FDR and Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms goes global



The exhibition contains Norman Rockwell works, like "Freedom of Speech", and other artists’ paintings, including the images below "Marines Call It That 2,000 Yard Stare" by Thomas Lea and a sign in Birmingham by Arthur Rothstein.

Illustration for PELELIU, Tom Lea Paints Island Invasion, Life, June 11, 1945; United States Army Center of Military History, Washington, D. C.; Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, February 20, 1943; Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

The Four Freedoms concept was considered to be a flop. When FDR’s famous speech to Congress was made at the start of 1941, it was met with a mediocre reception. This was a critical time: Roosevelt was laying the groundwork for going to war with the Axis powers, needing to rally the public around ideals he wanted to secure for future generations.

It wasn’t that the American people disliked the concept; rather, the average Joe and Jane couldn’t connect FDR’s words to their own lives. There was a strong isolationist mindset after the First World War and the Depression. So, Roosevelt turned to the country’s greatest poets, playwrights, artists, and photographers to project those ideals.

It didn’t work.

Then, in 1943, America’s most renowned illustrator stepped forward to inspire his fellow Americans through what he did best, giving life to ideas through everyday scenes. With his brushstrokes, Norman Rockwell transformed FDR’s Four Freedoms from a perceived misguided flop into an indelible part of the national vernacular.

“Together, with one telling and the other showing, the two men had unwittingly given the abstract concept a profound meaning even as they had inspired Americans to embrace the ideals themselves. It was a collaboration that would elevate the president’s original phrase into a timeless moment. And that moment, looking forward, would influence the very shape of the postwar landscape,” writes James Kimble in Enduring Ideals, Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms to be released the end of May by Abbeville Press. 

Kimble, communications professor at Seton Hall University, is among more than a dozen notable writers in this book that will accompany the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. He and Norman Rockwell Museum’s Stephanie Haboush Plunkett co-curate the international tour that opens at the New-York Historical Society on May 25. It then travels to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan; the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.; Mémorial de Caen in Normandy, France (opening June 4, 2019, the 75th anniversary of D-Day); the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Denver Art Museum; and the Norman Rockwell Museum (fall 2020).

“We wanted to target populations that are diverse and where the Four Freedoms message would resonate,” says Martin W. Mahoney, the Rockwell Museum’s director of curatorial operations. 

This “very ambitious exhibition,” as Mahoney calls it, germinated four years ago and contains more than 250 pieces. It is actually two shows: the historical context of Four Freedoms, with works by Rockwell and other artists of the time, along with photographs and artifacts; and “Reimagining the Four Freedoms,” a juried show consisting of 40 pieces by modern artists from across North America. (Major support comes from The Alix Foundation, George Lucas Family Foundation, and The Travelers Companies, Inc. Additional support is provided by an anonymous donor, Michael Bakwin, Helen Bing, Elephant Rock Foundation, Ford Foundation, Annie and Ned Lamont, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Ted Slavin.)

“The ideals in Roosevelt’s speech and Rockwell’s paintings are timeless concepts, relevant in any age,” says Plunkett. 

From private and public lenders, the pieces converged at the Rockwell Museum, where they were carefully examined, some requiring preservation work done at the Williamtown Art Conservation Center. Then all the artwork was repacked, crated, and ready for travel. In addition to the interactive portions of the exhibition—there is an immersive virtual reality in which you can step into any of the Four Freedoms paintings—an educational curriculum accompanies the exhibition that is available online and is published as a book with lesson plans to be distributed at each venue for teachers to take back to their classrooms. 

Children may learn that in 1942, Rockwell was frustrated that he wasn’t getting anywhere with FDR’s concept. Then he was struck in the middle of the night with the image at a town hall meeting he had just attended in Arlington, Vermont. Neighbor and farmer Jim Edgerton had risen to speak against a popular motion. It was a moment of “tolerant democracy,” as Kimble describes it in the new book. That was Rockwell’s breakthrough, his interpretation of Freedom of Speech. In seven months, Rockwell created four oil-on-canvas paintings, each measuring 45.75 by 35.5 inches. Editor Ben Hibbs of  The Saturday Evening Post had commissioned him to do the work. 

“Somebody should try to present the Four Freedoms in understandable, visual, emotional terms, and I knew if anybody could do it Norman Rockwell could,” Hibbs later reflected. The artist’s finished images were reprinted in four consecutive issues, each time reaching 3.3 million subscribers. An essayist provided commentary on each: Freedom of Speech in the February 20, 1943, issue, was accompanied by a parable from Booth Tarkington, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. On February 27, Freedom of Worship was released with an essay by philosopher Will Durant. Rockwell’s Freedom from Want followed in the March 6 issue, with commentary by Carlos Bulosan, the Filipino-American poet and labor activist. And Freedom from Fear ran in the March 13 issue, aside an essay by Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Stephen Vincent Benét. 

The U.S. Office of War Information turned Rockwell’s interpretations into four million large-scale war bonds posters that appeared in post offices, canteens, libraries, and other public spaces. A tour followed, with more than a million people coming to see Rockwell’s images and purchasing some $133 million in war bonds. (Each buyer received a set of smaller Four Freedoms prints.)

In Enduring Ideals, former U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson writes that Roosevelt understood an individual’s hopes could not be confined by national borders. One FDR adviser questioned whether the Four Freedoms should apply “everywhere in the world.” 

“I don’t know how interested Americans are going to be in the people of Java.” Roosevelt replied: “I’m afraid they’ll have to be some day … the world is getting so small that even the people in Java are getting to be our neighbors now.” 

Rockwell’s works remind us to keep striving to find the humanity and the heart that make us one, Eliasson writes. That is the Rockwell message that struck him as a young boy living in a small town in Sweden, and that still stirs Eliasson to this day. Rockwell summons the inner artist in us all. Keep drawing, Rockwell says. Draw the line that connects our shared humanity and aspirations.

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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
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The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
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Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Website »

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This hilltop paradise, now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of the guided...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
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KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
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Website »

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Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

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SilverSource – the leading resource for older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2018 SilverSource Awards.  The awards...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource, Inc.
2009 Summer Street, 3rd Floor
2949 Long Ridge Rd
Stamford, CT  06905
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Sponsor: SilverSource, Inc.
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Kathleen Bordelon
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Opening Reception: Apr 28 at 2:00 PM Date of Show : Apr 28 - May 27  See the artists website at www.erikacrofut.com Each month the Sandisfield Arts Center proudly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sandisfield Arts Center
5 Hammertown Rd.
Sandisfield, MA  01255
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Sponsor: Sandisfield Arts Center
Telephone: 413-258-4100
Contact Name: Marcella Smith
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West Stockbridge Chamber Players’ Spring Benefit Concert   On Friday, May 25th at 6 p.m., Boston Symphony Orchestra members Sheila Fiekowsky, violin, Daniel Getz, viola, Oliver...

Cost: 35.00 per ticket

Where:
Old Town Hall
9 Main Street
West Stockbridge, MA  01266
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Sponsor: West Stockbridge Historical Society
Telephone: 413-232-5055
Contact Name: Carol Kuller
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Kick off your Memorial Day weekend with family fun under the stars with a FREE showing of the animated movie “Ferdinand” (rated PG) on Friday, May 25th at Jesse Lee Memorial United...

Cost: Free movie, food is for purchase

Where:
Jesse Lee Church
207 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 120-343-85992
Contact Name: Jen Mulhern
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The event, L.O.L. Love of Languages, will be a celebration of world languages and culture, and will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Foran High School cafeteria and courtyard. Teachers Pam...

Cost: Free

Where:
Foran High School
80 Foran Rd
Milford, CT  06460
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Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
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Website »

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With his unique blend of Blues and Americana, Keb Mo has garnered four Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Blues and Best Country/Acoustic Blues Albums plus five more nominations for Blues,...

Cost: $48-$88

Where:
Tarrytown Music Hall
13 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Website »

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A community-based, family-oriented event with dance performances, professional dance instruction, bands, DJs, and social dancing for youths and adults.​ We are thrilled to continue our...

Where:
Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center
1 First Stamford Place
Stamford, CT
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Website »

More information

The big glitzy musical Sister Act fared better than the original movie. It received four Olivier Award nominations for its original stage production at London’s West End Theatre. It...

Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pirelli World Challenge series serves up races from all 7 car classes from the Big Dogs (Cadillacs, Bentley’s, Lomborghinis & Porches) to the TC class of Mustangs and BMW 228is, and...

Cost: $60

Where:
Lime Rock Park
60 White Hollow Rd
Lakeville , CT
View map »


Website »

More information

See the majestic beauty of the Hudson River on this 2-hour narrated river adventure from Newburgh to West Point taking in the sights of Washington’s Headquarters, World’s End, Mt....

Cost: $22

Where:
Blu Pointe Landing
100 Front Street
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

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Are you just dying to get some dirt under your fingernails this season? Come to Back 40 Farm for Friday Field Days and help us out with weeding, transplanting, hoeing, harvesting, and more! Who:...

Where:
Back 40 Farm
Washington Depot, CT


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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Join the Litchfield Historical Society for a Saturday walking tour on May 26 at 10 a.m. Explore some of the sites related to the famous Beecher family, residents of Litchfield from 1810 to 1826....

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

The Washington Art Association & Gallery is pleased to present State of Abstraction, an exhibition of contemporary abstract art by Connecticut artists from May 5 - June 16, 2018. Co-Curated...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Hall Plaza
P.O. Box 173
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Barbara von Schreiber
Website »

More information

The US any Blue Angels headline the Jones Beach 15th Annual Memorial Day Weekend Air Show. Plus The Royal Canadian Air Force Snow Birds, the F22 Raptor the Air Force’s newest fighter...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jones Beach
895 Bay Pkwy
Wantagh, NY  11793
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

This hilltop paradise, now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of the guided...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

KMR Arts is proud to present MAYDAY, an exhibition of new photographs by Barbara Vaughn. Please join us for the opening reception with the artist on June 2, 2018, from 3-7pm, 2 Titus Road,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot , CT  06794
View map »


Website »

More information

The first Litchfield County Zine Fest (and the first zine fest in Connecticut) is coming to Kent, CT! The fest is a free, all-ages, public arts event where self-publishers of all stripes will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kent Community House
93 North Main Street
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Website »

More information

Architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911-1985), was a giant of Italian modern design and co-founder of Tecno. George Champion Modern Shop will celebrate...

Cost: free

Where:
George Champion Modern Shop
442 Main St. South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: George Champion Modern Shop
Telephone: 203-263-8442
Contact Name: George Champion
Website »

More information

SilverSource – the leading resource for older adults and their families– announced today that it is now accepting nominations for the 2018 SilverSource Awards.  The awards...

Cost: FREE

Where:
SilverSource, Inc.
2009 Summer Street, 3rd Floor
2949 Long Ridge Rd
Stamford, CT  06905
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource, Inc.
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Kathleen Bordelon
Website »

More information

Opening Reception: Apr 28 at 2:00 PM Date of Show : Apr 28 - May 27  See the artists website at www.erikacrofut.com Each month the Sandisfield Arts Center proudly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sandisfield Arts Center
5 Hammertown Rd.
Sandisfield, MA  01255
View map »


Sponsor: Sandisfield Arts Center
Telephone: 413-258-4100
Contact Name: Marcella Smith
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ eighth annual Juried Member Show opens Saturday, May 26th, with a reception scheduled for Saturday, June 2nd from 4-6pm (due to the Memorial Day...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Website »

More information

Oil paintings by Carol Brightman Johnson will be on display at the Smithy Store Loft Gallery from May 25 to July 7. Hours: daily from 10:00 to 5:30 Subjects include horses, dogs, orchids,...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Smithy Store Loft Gallery
10 Main St.
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: The Smithy Store Loft Gallery
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

A Benefit For Veterans Featuring exclusive footage of edisun on tour with US Armed Forces. 2005-2018 6PM doors 7PM Film and Musical Performance

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
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Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 203-283-5290
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

More information

Peter and the Starcatcher is a play based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play provides a backstory for the...

Cost: $20 admission; $15 for seniors; $10 for kids

Where:
Western CT State University
Visual Performing Arts Center
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Website »

More information

Music: Boris Asafiev Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky, after Vasily Vainonen Cast The Bolshoi Principals, Soloists and Corps de Ballet In the era of the French Revolution, Jeanne and...

Cost: $25

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Website »

More information

An evening of ribald, one-man comedy with Wet Hot American Summer actor and stand-up sensation Michael Ian Black. Fans of sketch comedy might know Black’s work from such seminal television...

Cost: $29

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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“Country Music’s Newest Star”, Jessica Lynn who has been called “Shania’s Successor” is coming to ChappPac. A Lakeland HS and Pace University grad, she...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Chappaqua Performing Arts Center
480 Bedford Road
Chappaqua, NY  10514
View map »


Website »

More information

A community-based, family-oriented event with dance performances, professional dance instruction, bands, DJs, and social dancing for youths and adults.​ We are thrilled to continue our...

Where:
Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center
1 First Stamford Place
Stamford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The big glitzy musical Sister Act fared better than the original movie. It received four Olivier Award nominations for its original stage production at London’s West End Theatre. It...

Cost: $59-$89

Where:
Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Pirelli World Challenge series serves up races from all 7 car classes from the Big Dogs (Cadillacs, Bentley’s, Lomborghinis & Porches) to the TC class of Mustangs and BMW 228is, and...

Cost: $60

Where:
Lime Rock Park
60 White Hollow Rd
Lakeville , CT
View map »


Website »

More information

See the majestic beauty of the Hudson River on this 2-hour narrated river adventure from Newburgh to West Point taking in the sights of Washington’s Headquarters, World’s End, Mt....

Cost: $22

Where:
Blu Pointe Landing
100 Front Street
Newburgh, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery will open an exhibit of fine paintings by Carol Brightman Johnson. Ms. Johnson's show opens on Saturday, May 26 and run through Sunday, July 8, and will feature...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: Susan
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Melissa Meyer: Hitting the Right Notes,” her first solo exhibition with the gallery.  The show will open with a public reception...

Cost: Free

Where:
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840


Sponsor: heathergaudiofineart.com
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Do you wish you could read great literature but fear you just can't fit it in? Do you join book clubs only to find yourself not having enough time to read through the entire book? Do you love a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Danbury Library- Lower Level Meeting Room
170 Main St
Danbury, CT  06810
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Website »

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