Monday, September 19, 2011

Giving a Talk on Russell Patterson, Oct 2

If you're in Massachusetts it would be lovely to see you for tea, at the Norman Rockwell Museum on Sunday, Oct. 2. I will be giving the following talk:

Sex, Booze, and All That Jazz:
The Humorous Illustration of Russell Patterson

This illustrated lecture presents the work of Russell Patterson with over 50 images and a film clip. We will examine how his cartoons of the “Patterson Girl” from the 1920s and 30s, like the earlier Gibson Girl, paradoxically symbolized both the excess and the containment of female sexuality in popular culture.
Russell Patterson’s girlie drawings were symptomatic of shifts in courtship, class behaviors, commercial culture, and changing conditions in the field of illustration following World War 1. Patterson helped redefine modern beauty standards and gender performance in comics, puppet shows, advertising, magazines, interior design, fashion design, and beauty contests.
Patterson’s illustrations were a response to a new norm, where illustrators were faced with models’ unprecedented sexual and business autonomy. The tension between the sexes in his work is reflective of the displacement of illustrated print media by the camera and the very models he had helped promote. The increasing tawdriness of his depictions of women may be seen as an attempt to hang on to power by showing what the camera could not, as well as a misogynist mocking of the very sexuality his illustrations celebrate. Widely imitated and famous in his day, Patterson’s masterful black and white line drawings express the rebellious spirit of the jazz age so outrageously that they still charm—and raise eyebrows—today.
Sunday, October 2 at 2:30 p.m.
Norman Rockwell Museum 


David Apatoff said...

How did it go?

Anonymous said...

The talk was accessible yet got quickly into fairly deep issues of artists-and-models' mutual exploitation and other pithy stuff. Though politely received, there were no juicy questions raised, and the whole thing was marred by a constant stream of noisy visitors looking at the display of all Rockwell's covers on the walls of the same room.

--Roger Reed