One afternoon in July 1968 Rockwell picked up the phone in his studio and heard a voice at the other end talking intently about mounting a show of his work.The man on the other end of the line was Bernie Danenberg, a young New York dealer. Later Danenberg tried to buy one of Rockwell's paintings for $2,500. Rockwell refused the money and tried to give the painting to Danenberg, saying he had already been paid for it by the Saturday Evening Post.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I think you have the wrong artist.”
For all his success and dedication to popular, realistic art, Rockwell was also ambivalent about his style and his link to commerce. He was well versed in the history of art, and some of his illustrations borrow from great paintings: a 1920s advertisement for SunMaid raisins evokes Vermeer; the famous wartime Post cover of Rosie the Riveter borrows its pose from Michelangelo's Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel. At several junctures in his life, Rockwell traveled abroad, trying to get a handle on modern art and "paint for himself," as the phrase goes. But the effort invariably failed. "Every time they come out with a new art movement," he wrote, "I grimly try to follow it. However, when I put brush to canvas, alas, it always comes out Rockwell." When he was praised as an artist, he tended to assume that the speaker had confused him with the modern artist, Rockwell Kent.(Paula Marantz Cohen in the TLS, April 4, 2014)