To follow up on Rockwell, and digress further into some of the implications brought up by Richard Halpern in his book, The Underside of Innocence, we of course cannot confirm the theory posited by him, but there does appear to be an erotic charge in much of his work, a tension underlying the kitsch, as if there is a truth to be found in kitsch, or at least that pop culture necessitates a new form of coded language that has to navigate the drivel content inherent in mass distribution.
Perhaps after all, Walter Benjamin in his “Mechanical Reproduction” essay was not as off the rails as he appeared to be with his assertion of emancipatory and revolutionary qualities being potentially available within the context of the pop culture monster being spawned through wide circulation of images. Rockwell may have been inspired by imagery from Dickens and appropriated the concept, totally artificial and fabricated which Dickens created: the purity of the middle class, perhaps as a response to the Janus face of this being Baudelaire and his netherworld of the urban consumer society; ragpickers, flaneurs, whores and the artist within this context.
So yes, Rockwell is a more complex and subtle figure. We had Grant Wood’s American gothic, but actually went on in that house and barn that serves as background figure? Also, Rockwell’s use of uniforms and costumes reminds me of Sontag’s essay on eroticism in Nazi Germany with relation to dress codes….