Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), First Trip to the Beauty Shop, Top Value trading stamp catalogue, 1972, Pencil on joined paper, 35 x 32", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Peach Crop, The American Magazine, April 1935, Oil on canvas, 16 x 36", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell in The Collections of George Lucas & Stephen Spielberg

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Little Girl Looking Downstairs at Christmas Party, McCall’s, December 1964, Oil on board, 10 x 10½", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Shadow Artist, The Country Gentleman, February 7, 1920, Oil on canvas, 25 x 25", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Four Sporting Boys: Golf, Four Seasons calendar, 1951, Oil and pencil on canvas, 13-½ x 12", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), The Tender Years: New Calendar, Four Seasons calendar, 1957, Oil on canvas, 18 x 18", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Grandpa and Me: Raking Leaves, Four Seasons calendar, 1948, Oil on canvas, 18-½ x 18", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Boy and Father: Homework, Four Seasons calendar, 1962, Oil on canvas, 18 x 16", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Movie Starlet and Reporters, The Saturday Evening Post, March 7, 1936, Oil on canvas, 35 x 32", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), The Flirts, The Saturday Evening Post, July 26, 1941, Oil on canvas, 34-¼ x 27-¼", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

 

Smithsonian American Art Museum
Renwick Gallery
1661 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
at 17th Street
202-633-7970
Washington
Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell
from the Collections of George Lucas
and Steven Spielberg

July 2, 2010-January 2, 2011

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg showcases 57 major Rockwell paintings and drawings from these private collections. The museum is the only venue for the exhibition.

Telling Stories is the first major exhibition to explore in-depth the connections between Norman Rockwell’s iconic images of American life and the movies. Two of America’s best-known modern filmmakers — George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — recognized a kindred spirit in Rockwell and each formed significant collections of his work. Rockwell’s paintings and the films of Lucas and Spielberg evoke love of country, small-town values, children growing up, unlikely heroes, acts of imagination and life’s ironies.

“Norman Rockwell is an artist and a storyteller who captured universal truths about Americans that tell us a lot about who we are as a people,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Like Rockwell, both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg embrace the idea that ordinary people can become unlikely heroes. I am delighted that the Smithsonian American Art Museum is organizing the first exhibition to explore these new connections between Rockwell’s art and the movies.”

Rockwell was a masterful storyteller who could distill a narrative into a single frame. His pictures tell stories about the adventure of growing up, of individuals rising up to face personal challenges, the glamour of Hollywood and the importance of tolerance in American life. He created lengths to stage his pictures, laboring over costumes for each figure and the individual props that added to the story he wanted the viewer to understand at a glance. He typically drafted multiple preparatory sketches to get the composition and details exactly right.

The exhibition and its catalog also present Rockwell as a careful observer of the popular culture of his day. Rockwell chose to paint particular subjects with particular points of view and helped Americans adjust to social change through sympathetic and sometimes humorous images. He created scenes that parallel themes also found in movies, popular fiction and current events. For example, during World War II, Rockwell created “The Four Freedoms” in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous 1941 State of the Union speech. Parallel themes are apparent also in a series of films Why We Fight, directed by Frank Capra between 1942 and 1945.

A 12-minute film, coproduced by the museum and filmmaker Laurent Bouzereau, will be shown continuously in the exhibition galleries. It features interviews with Lucas and Spielberg that reveal their insights into Rockwell’s art and why certain works appealed to them.

A catalog, co-published by the museum and Abrams, is written by Mecklenburg with a contribution by Todd McCarthy, a film critic for Variety. It will be available for $65 (hardcover) in the museum store, online and at book stores nationwide. A softcover version will be available only at the museum’s store and its online shop for $35.95.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Children Dancing at a Party (Pardon Me), The Saturday Evening Post, January 26, 1918, Oil on canvas, 23 x 19", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), A Time for Greatness, Look, July 14, 1964, Oil on canvas, 41 x 33", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), — And Daniel Boone Comes to Life on the Underwood Portable, Underwood typewriter advertisement, 1923, Oil on canvas, 36 x 28", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Can’t Wait, Boy Scouts of America calendar, 1972, Charcoal on paper, 39 x 31-½", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Proud Possessor, The American Magazine, May 1940, Charcoal on paper, 35 x 28", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Boy on High Dive, The Saturday Evening Post, August 16, 1947, Oil on canvas, 35 x 27", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Polley Voos Fransay? (Soldier Speaking to Little French Girl), Life, November 22, 1917, Oil on canvas, 30 x 23", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Gary Cooper as the Texan, The Saturday Evening Post, May 24, 1930, Oil on canvas, 35 x 26", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Boy Reading Adventure Story, The Saturday Evening Post, November 10, 1923, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24", Collection of George Lucas.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Spirit of America, Boy Scouts of America calendar, 1929, Oil on canvas, 20 x 16", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Let Nothing You Dismay, Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1941, Oil on canvas, 33 x 64", Collection of Steven Spielberg.

 

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), First Trip to the Beauty Shop, Top Value trading stamp catalogue, 1972, Oil on canvas, 30 x 27", Collection of George Lucas.