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The White House’s Newest Norman Rockwell

by Hrag Vartanian on July 20, 2011

US President Barack Obama, Ruby Bridges, and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum view Rockwell’s "The Problem We All Live With" (1963) hanging in a West Wing hallway near the Oval Office, July 15, 2011. Bridges is the girl portrayed in the painting. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Are there too many art works by Norman Rockwell at the White House? Probably, but last Friday US President Barack Obama took time out of his schedule to discuss the 1963 painting by Norman Rockwell, titled “The Problem We All Live With,” with the representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum and the woman who is depicted as a six year old girl in the work. Inspired by a history-changing walk integrating William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1960, the painting has become a popular icon of the civil rights era.

Ruby Bridges, the girl in the painting, met with Obama during the meeting. According to ABC News, Bridges once described the experience this way:

“Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras” …

This isn’t the only Rockwell hanging in the White House, other works by Rockwell include a painting of the Statue of Liberty, which hangs in the same room. Painted for the July 6, 1946 cover of The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell’s Statue of Liberty was donated to the White House Collection in 1994 by Hollywood director and major Rockwell fan Steven Spielberg.

Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With” will be on display at the White House until October 31.

 

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