Published: October 27, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — As America heads to the voting booths in November, the question remains “Which One?” Making its auction debut at Sotheby’s American art sale on November 21 is Norman Rockwell’s “Which One? (Undecided; Man in Voting Booth).” Depicting the public sentiment leading up to the presidential election of 1944, in which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran against Thomas E. Dewey, this painting epitomizes Rockwell’s signature style, combining relatability and intellect, humor and all-American pride.
Acquired by the Phipps family in the 1980s, the painting will be exhibited in New York starting November 4 alongside Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art, and before the American art auction on November 21, when it is estimated to sell for $4/6 million.
Focused on the United States presidential election of 1944, a hotly contested race between Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, running for his fourth term, and Republican Thomas E. Dewey, governor of New York, “Which One?” is a superb example of Rockwell’s ability to highlight issues at the forefront of national discourse in a relatable manner. With questions of foreign and domestic policy, as well as the general health of the incumbent, being called into question, Americans rallied to vote, taking part in an essential, American experience.
In “Which One?, “ a Cedar Rapids resident represents the millions of undecided voters across the country. Having educated himself with political pamphlets and newspapers, the former jammed in his pocket and the latter still grasped in his hand, the voter continues to weigh his options. While the image alone would have resonated with citizens throughout the United States, Rockwell’s keen attention to detail, demonstrated by the fine print of The Cedar Rapids Gazette and the man’s bemused expression, brings this undecided voter to life. Furthermore, by balancing the composition and creating a sense of depth, one feels that he or she could step into the painting and into the shoes of the Cedar Rapids voter.
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