In the Balance: The Art of Norman Rockwell and Alex Colville as Discourses on the Constitutions of the United States and Canada


  • David Howes



The author analyzes the nature of the Canadian and American constitutions through a series of analogies with the art of Alex Colville and Norman Rockwell as representatives of the culture and underlying mindsets of these nations. According to the author, the artists' perceptions of the world have been influenced by their respective nations' constitutions and the paintings of Colville and Rockwell thus express the values inherent in these constitutions. He contrasts the foundation of Canadian confederation, an alliance between two distinct linguistic and cultural groups, with the indivisible unity he ascribes to the American constitutional setting. The author concludes that by seeing the separation of figures in Colville's paintings and their fusion in Rockwell's, the viewer can grasp the essence of the countries the artists represent. The author further encourages constitutional law scholars to broaden their attentions to include legal interpretations of non-legal works, to develop "visual thinking" skills and a visionary attitude and to extend the field of constitutional studies to include a nation's "habits of the heart".