Rockwell considered the selection of models to be one of the most important elements of the picture making process, once writing, “When you have a good idea clearly in mind, spare no effort to get the ideal character for it…Your models can make or break your work” (Rockwell on Rockwell, New York, 1979, p. 44). Rockwell chose models for his story-telling images from six age groups which he believed captured all of humanity, ranging from infants to old age. Adolescent boys and girls were in the middle of this spectrum, and Rockwell found that they offered a variety of unique compositional possibilities. Not only did these teenagers possess both youthful and mature characteristics and expressions, but they could also be humorous, serious, or romantic—and sometimes even all of these things at once.
Many of Rockwell’s most-loved covers of The Post feature these young adults in witty or sentimental scenarios. Ouija Board is an early reflects the central role that the theme of young romance played in the artist’s body of work. According to Karal Ann Marling, “Ouija Board of 1920 documents the craze for contacting the spirit world by moving a heart-shaped platform over letters and numbers inscribed on a polished board. The boards gained popularity during the war years, when they were used to predict the fate of soldiers at the front; a million sets were sold in 1918. Afterward, in the face of opposition from clergy who suspected devil worship, the Ouija board became a parlor game, conducive to intimacy, since the board worked best when perched on the knees of users, whose fingers invariably touched as they rested lightly on the moving indicator. And Rockwell took full advantage of the romantic implications of the subject by joining his couple at the knees as they ask coy questions about their mutual future. She looks up, avoiding his glance and the embarrassment of acknowledging their close proximity. He uses the occasion to stare openly at her face, as if memorizing every feature. The circle around their upper bodies enhances the closeness of their momentary contact.”
“This was Rockwell’s first use of the circle device, which became a Post trademark… In Rockwell’s hands, the circle was a supple tool for emphasizing a profile, showing a fragment of a setting, or suggesting a character’s innermost thoughts” (Norman Rockwell, New York, 1997, pp. 64-5).
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