Apparently movie directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are both avid collectors of the work of the great American illustrator Norman Rockwell. Unlike those of us who might indulge in a fondness for Rockwell by collecting old Saturday Evening Post covers, Lucas and Spielberg can afford to collect Rockwell’s originals, and have done so extensively.
Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is a new exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. that runs from now until January 2, 2011.
The museum has a slideshow on its website (be sure to click on the individual images for the larger versions) that shows the fascinating range of Rockewell’s work represented, from iconically famous works to pieces you just never see. There are also a number of Rockwell’s drawings, some preliminaries for famous works, as well as a painted rough for at least one painting. The slideshow contains almost 60 images.
Both directors, who recognize their role as storytellers, admire Rockwell’s mastery of the power of illustration in telling stores. Spielberg, who conceived of the exhibition and convinced Lucas to join him, said of Rockwell: “He was always on my mind because I had a great deal of respect for how he could tell stories in a single frozen image. Entire stories.”
There is some additional backstory and insight on the exhibition in a review on the New York Times.
4 Replies to “Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg”
I’m not sure if you’ve posted anything about this yet but Illustration Magazine Issue Number Nineteen (page 104) has an article on a painting from Spielberg’s collection that – had things been different – might have been in this show. The painting Russian Schoolroom which appeared in the October 3, 1967 issue of Look magazine.
The painting had been stolen from a gallery in Clayton (in St. Louis County, Missouri) in June of 1973. Spielberg purchased the painting in 1989 (not knowing its history) and in 2006 he contacted the FBI after learning that it had been stolen.
I’m curious to see if there is any mention of this episode in the show catalog.
The most fascinating piece in the presentation for me is the 10 x 9 1/2 inch color sketch for “the Jury” in which Rockwell is clearly still working out the composition and treatment. This is quite different from the many pencil renderings that look like sketches but are really more developed tonal refinements.
Yes. I agree, Dan. I love seeing artists’ preliminary color sketches in which they’re working out problems.
This is a wonderful exhibit and worth the trip– you’re not likely to see the originals from these private collections any time again for years. I was especially impressed by the insightful reactions of Lucas and Spielberg to Rockwell’s paintings. They aren’t art experts by any stretch of the imagination, but they found a lot of interesting material to like in Rockwell’s rich, thoughtful work.
I agree with Daniel, that “jury” sketch was a beauty, as was the finished piece hanging right next to it.
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