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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Norman Rockwell: Gay Icon?

By Jessica Dawson

Is Norman Rockwell the undersung hero of gay art? Sure, I'd just seen the National Portrait Gallery's excellent "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" before I hit the packed Rockwell show on Saturday afternoon. But I couldn't help but notice how very gay this work is. The homoeroticism of "River Pilot" leaps right off the canvas--- all those emphatically phallic horizontals; how the gaze of the fellow in the top hat travels straight to the younger man's rear; the old man's suggestive cigar. "Back to Civvies" takes easily to a gay reading, too, what with its insistence on a nice rear view. And what about that photo of a starlet pinned to the serviceman's wall? Is she a love interest or a fantasy alter ego?

Is a cigar ever really a cigar?

By Jessica Dawson  | November 29, 2010; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Jessica Dawson, Museums, Smithsonian  
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