Telling Stories

Norman Rockwell, Shadow Artist, oil on canvas, 1920 - Collection of George Lucas

Saturday in Washington, D.C., we went to see Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg at the American Art Museum. It was an amazing exhibit!

Along with the exhibit, there was a film in which filmmakers Spielberg and Lucas talked about their fondness for Rockwell, their collections, and the influence Rockwell has had on them personally. There are several scenes in Spielberg's movies that are derived directly from Rockwell's paintings. Toward the beginning of Empire of the Sun, Jim's parents tuck him into bed, and the scene is composed like Rockwell's Freedom From Fear. The scene is a moment that Jim would long for when he becomes separated from his parents in Shanghai during WWII and finds himself interned at the Longhua Civilian Assembly Center. He carries this image with him.


Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Fear, oil on canvas, 1943

Rockwell's paintings often inspire a happiness to long for, or optimism that can tug at the heart-strings, making you want to smile or even cry. He was masterful at telling a story in a single image, so it is no wonder that movie-makers Spielberg and Lucas found inspiration in his work.

This exhibit was quite larger than I had expected, with many popular paintings as well as impressive, full-scale drawings that informed us of his meticulous process.

Check out the exhibit on-line. Click "View the Slide Show" here:
http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tellingstories/

But go see the show in person for full impact. The paintings and drawings are large and wonderful. He was an expert painter and his use of color is terrific. It's an exhibit I'll remember for a long, long time.