Artblog Celebrating 20 Years!   Support Us Today!

Unkindest cut of the turkey


As a special treat for Thanksgiving today, I present both John Currin’s turkey day surprise and Norman Rockwell’s, and I have to say they both repel for different reasons, although I would go for the sentimentality of Rockwell before I’d take a bite of that raw, anti-Rockwell turkey that Currin serves up.

rockwellthanksgivingThere’s a lack of generosity in the Currin, a revulsion not just toward the turkey but the people, whose scrawny necks and pointy noses make me think of their unity with the bird. Hey, they look a lot like Frank Purdue, dontcha know!

Rockwell, on the other hand, offers cloying sentimentality, which this time he hasn’t undercut with humor. He’s put the bird in its place, center but ignored by the guests, who are laughing together, paying no attention to the piece de resistance. Rockwell offers sanity, generosity and affection–he’s saying it’s all about the family relations, not the damn bird or eating.

Of course, Rockwell’s got the magazine illustration affect, whereas Currin has the Old Masters affect. But style seems beside the point. The point is in the iconography.

If I’m choosing a Thanksgiving icon, why select the bitter and nasty? Hey, I like Thanksgiving and I like people and their foibles.