And the Oscar goes to…Norman Rockwell? Not quite, but the beloved American illustrator and painter was well connected to the movie business.
In fact, Rockwell once said, “If I hadn’t become a painter, I would have liked to have been a movie director.” Take a closer look at Rockwell and his working process at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibition Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Just like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Rockwell was a storyteller. And like the filmmakers, he tried to convey in each painting as much visual information as possible. All three men are linked by a desire to capture particularly American stories and distill life into myth. Rockwell emphasized the heroism of the ordinary man, such as in the painting The Runaway in which a friendly policeman talks a little boy who has run away from home into returning.
The artist was born in 1894, and his work spanned a good part of the twentieth century. His last paintings were created in the 1970s, at about the time Lucas and Spielberg were thinking inside a different frame. Had the storytelling mantle been passed from picture frame to movie frame? Rockwell often employed Hollywood themes in his work, and Americans gravitated to them in good times as well as bad, in war as well as peace. His images of soldiers returning from World War II, for example, feel like stills from films by William Wyler, Frank Capra, and of course, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
The exhibition Telling Stories continues through January 2, 2011. Come and see Rockwell through a different lens. Popcorn not included.