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    The Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is undergoing an extensive renovation that will shut its doors until next fall, and that’s good news for the Speed Art Museum, which has entered a five-year partnership with the Eskenazi that will allow the museums to borrow pieces from each other. That’s why the Speed has the current “Picasso to Pollock” exhibit until January. And the first of five planned one-offs: one of Norman Rockwell’s large charcoal drawings, on display until Nov. 11.

    Rockwell used the piece, Study for Breaking Home Ties, as a sort of problem-solving stage for a vibrant painting that would be the cover of the Sept. 25, 1954, edition of the Saturday Evening Post. (Over a 40-year period, Rockwell did 323 such covers.) It depicts a rancher father in heavy-duty denim work clothes at a railroad whistle-stop, sending his son — pinstriped suit, tie, new shoes — off to college. The father is so lost in thought that he’s forgotten to strike the match to light his cigarette. “Rockwell was trying to figure out how to portray what a father feels when his son leaves home,” says Kim Spence, curator of prints, drawings and photography at the Speed. “Rockwell was never satisfied. He explored every variation on the theme.” The Speed is exploring the theme too, with an accompanying podcast that will include a collage of interviews. “Whether it’s going off to college or to fight in the military,” Spence says, “this is a universal feeling: How do you deal with your child leaving home?”

    As far as the other one-offs the Speed is considering, Spence is tight-lipped. “We do have a list of objects in mind,” she says, “but we’re keeping those a surprise.”


    Norman Rockwell's Study for Breaking Home Ties, ca. 1954.

    This originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine on page 93. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    Part of "33 Reasons We Love Our Arts Scene."

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