Friday, April 10, 2009

Walton Ford on Art and Illustration

Ford said that he was interested in fudging the line between art and illustration; a lot of great art was illustration, and vice versa, depending on the degree of skill and imagination the artist brought to it. But there was another factor, too, and it involved the viewer's participation. "Norman Rockwell wanted to tackle civil rights," Ford said. "So what does he do? He does a painting from the point of view of a little black girl in a perfect Sunday dress, and there's a tomato splashed on the wall right near her head, and two U.S. marshals' legs on either side of her, and you have only one place to go - you're stuck with Norman Rockwell's interpretation. Some people love it, because you're off the hook, everyone understands it right away. Illustration can be a starting point, but to become art it has to open up and allow for other interpretations - then you get the kind of work I love most."

from "Man And Beast: The narrative art of Walton Ford" by Calvin Tomkins
The New Yorker, January 26. 2009

Norman Rockwell, "The Problem We All Live With"