Douglass Crockwell — Crockwell and Rockwell
Douglass Crockwell had high praise for fellow illustrator Norman Rockwell, who was coming to speak Oct. 11, 1948 at the Glens Falls Chamber of Commerce 34th annual dinner at The Queensury Hotel.
“(Saturday Evening) Post readers often say in letters to the editor: ‘He understands us. He paints us as we are.’ And no higher praise could be extended,” Crockwell told The Post-Star on Oct. 5. “His technique is something to marvel at.”
Crockwell, who was Chamber of Commerce board president that year, knew Rockwell through their art connections, and invited him to be keynote speaker at the dinner.
“A man of infinite patience, Rockwell does not hesitate to repaint a subject completely as many as five or more times in order that the finished painting be satisfactory to him,” Crockwell said. “Few, if any, artists today can find the patience or inclination to pursue his thorough and complicated painting techniques.”
Rockwell returned the praise when he spoke Oct. 11 at The Queensbury Hotel, calling Crockwell “among the best of American illustrators.”
“Mr. Rockwell pleased a capacity audience with a series of anecdotes related in a manner as informal and down-to-earth as the illustrations for which he is famous,” Burr Patten, a Post-Star editor reported.
WGLN radio of Glens Falls recorded Rockwell’s speech and broadcast it at 4 p.m. Oct. 12.
Rockwell told a humorous story about an occasion when he was visiting The Art Institute of Chicago.
A group of students kept staring as if they recognized him.
One student ventured over and asked if, indeed, he was Norman Rockwell.
“Upon being assured he was correct, the student asked if he might tell him something, whereupon he announced, ’Our teacher says you stink.’”
Rockwell said his technique as an illustrator was different from that used in fine art.
“I don’t understand modern art, though some of it fascinates me,” he said.
Rockwell said an illustration must be readily understood by the viewer.
“An illustrator can not rely on someone using a page of type trying to explain what he means,” Rockwell said.
Crockwell, around that time, had been branching out from illustration to fine art, working in abstract animated film, using a technique that he developed and patented.
The technique required 1,000 separate pictures to create one minute of film.
“Mr. Douglas Crockwell, besides being elected President of the Chamber of Commerce, has been showing his animated abstract movies to a large number of people, both locally and all over the country,” Joseph J. Dodge, curator of The Hyde Collection, wrote in his weekly arts column in The Post-Star on Jan. 3, 1948. “We look forward to more of the same.”
On Nov. 14, 1947, Dodge wrote in his column that Crockwell’s election as chamber president recognized his dual skills in art and business.
“This honor is only incidentally a tribute to Mr. Crockwell’s ability as a painter, as a maker of abstract, Sur-Realistic motion pictures, and as advocate of modern art,” Dodge wrote. “It is more a recognition of his sound judgement and his unstinting services to and interest in our community and its problems, most prominently the problems of city planning and the war memorial.”
Dodge said that Crockwell’s election as chamber president in October 1947 was precedent setting.
“We have ransacked our memory to find precedent for such an event, because we are sure that Mr. Crockwell is the first artist ever so honored, especially in a chamber of commerce,” Dodge wrote. “The only vaguely similar situations of which we can think were in the activities of Leonardo da Vinci and Peter Paul Rubens in their respective societies.”
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